A Shipwreck in the Sand was the Canadian band Silverstein’s (named after Shel Silverstein) fourth studio album released in 2009, and one of their most successful albums to date. Silverstein is a heavy band, infusing elements of rock, punk, and hardcore music to establish their own version of the “post core” genre, which many other artists have now mimicked from Silverstein’s success.
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The concept alum actually tells two stories, one overlaying tale with another story in the middle, and both stories follow the same theme of betrayal and problems with the world around them. The album is divided into four logical chapters based on the storyline. The small story in the middle of the album is contained in the title track, A Shipwreck in the Sand, which describes a captain of a ship sailing for a new land and begins a new world, but when he is unsuccessful the crew stages a mutiny against him. This short is a metaphor for the entire album storyline of failure and betrayal, which depicts a failed relationship between a family. The man is sick and cannot afford health care and realizes that his wife has betrayed and is cheating on him the first chapter, in the songs: A Great Fire, Vices, and Broken Stars. In the second chapter, it displays the main character’s anger at his family and the world around him for putting him in the situation he is in, while he has not done anything to hurt anyone. This chapter called Liars, Cheaters, Thieves gets political as the character criticizes the American dream, corrupt politicians, and war for the trouble it had caused the world and the character himself. He feels hopeless and angry because it appeared like life was ending.
The next chapter, Fight Fire with Fire, describes the main character’s rash reaction to everything going on in his life, where in a fit of rage he lights his own house in the fire with his wife and child still inside. This fit of blinding rage is described in the heaviest song of the album, I am the Arsonist. However upon doing so instantly rightfully regrets his action and runs into the burning save his family, especially his daughter who was caught in the middle of the conflict. The last song on the chapter, You’re All I Have, is a song targeted at his daughter as he saves her, explaining how she is the only one who hasn’t hurt him.
The final chapter, Death and Taxes, cuts directly to the character in court for his crimes in the song We Are Not the World, where his wife calls him crazy and he loses custody of his daughter. The second verse of the song again attacks the American government for putting the character in the position he is in. The next song, A Hero Loses Everyday, tells the story of the main character the night after court. He is defeated and has given up on everything, and eventually commits suicide. Interestingly, the song makes the listener feel sad for the protagonist, even after the crime he committed. The final and best song on the record, named The End, features Canadian singer Lights. This semi-acoustic duet is a conversation between the husband and the wife, as they apologize to each other, reminisce, and admit that they will miss and love each other forever, for what that is worth.Although the main character dies in the track before, The End is the perfect ending track as it fills in the gaps of the story and incorporates thematic and stylistic choices heard earlier in the album, unifying it. The End is the final conclusion to the metaphor of betrayal on the record and the sad, chilling chorus perfectly evokes the emotions onto the listener.
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This album is really interesting because the protagonist is not a good person, just a miserable one who made a rash decision based on the horrible things occurring around him. At the end where he loses, you still feel bad for him.
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