When Los Angeles post-hardcore crew letlive. exploded into the global rock consciousness with 2010’s Epitaph-released ‘Fake History’, critics quickly turned to convenient comparisons.
With Refused and Glassjaw foremost amongst the parallels, it was clear that while the outfit had the necessary nous to connect to a considerable audience, standout creativity was drowned out by controlled carnage.
But ‘The Blackest Beautiful’, this band’s third album, stirs itself into a more distinctively singular frenzy.
Frontman Jason Butler remains as much of a focal point as ever, his acid guts and bloody spittle liberally spread across 11 songs that rarely slip back from fifth gear, intensity wise.
But Butler doesn’t carry this collection as his incendiary performance did much of ‘Fake History’. When he screams, you and your commuting companions know all about it – this much is clear from opening cut ‘Banshee (Ghost Fame)’, which also exhibits an appealing swagger – but he’s backed by an ensemble evidently unafraid to rail against expectations. The end product is one that, mostly, confidently steps beyond typical post-hardcore tropes.
‘White America’s Beautiful Black Market’ is an early track which morphs its form across a consistently engaging three-and-some minutes. Initially it sets its stall out like a rock-rap crossover affair; only for Butler to empty his lungs before reaching a glitched-up middle-eight; and ultimately blazes into an expression of middle-finger-up protest against a government “sucking the dicks of corporations”.
So the themes are common ones: rulers that do so by controversial means; oppression felt by those without as much as they once had; out-dated racial attitudes; “soapbox standing” sorts who’ll get theirs in the end. But the delivery resonates with palpable conviction, and letlive. never let aggression detonate to the detriment of the song in question.
There is melody here, clear structure. ‘The Blackest Beautiful’ is a pop record, of a kind. The kind that eats the other albums racked next to it.
Just as Bring Me The Horizon achieved considerable progression with their electronica-tinged 2013 album, ‘Sempiternal’, letlive. here thrown down a gauntlet to themselves, for future measure. ‘The Blackest Beautiful’ has the rawness of what came before it, but is well balanced by a spirit of experimentation within its field.
That it’s not perfect, losing sting on the meandering ‘Virgin Dirt’ and placid ‘Pheromone Cvlt’, is for the best: or else where the hell would this band go next?
Words: Mike Diver
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