Discovering the Waterfront (Victory)

Rock bands often open albums with their most explosive songs, an approach that's even more effective in an era of in-store listening stations and online song samples. Silverstein frontloads Discovering the Waterfront's first track with aggressive riffs, propulsive drums, and throaty shouts, but after 20 seconds, a harmony-bolstered melody commandeers the song -- without diluting its intensity. Countless groups employ the sweet-and-scour approach, but few balance the elements as expertly as this Canadian quintet.

Instead of shifting its backdrops to accommodate its split-personality singer, an approach that leads to grotesque, Dr. Moreau-style hybrids, Silverstein allows its complex tunes to run their course without concern for vocal congruity. Frontman Shane Told lets the lyrics dictate his delivery, occasionally growling during gently strummed passages and crooning through metalcore maelstroms. The fast-starting songs all save space for catchy choruses, with Paul Koehler's seismic drumrolls telegraphing the transitions. Discovering the Waterfront suggests that gruff hardcore and power pop aren't as mutually exclusive as many incompetent musical alchemists make them sound.