“The Blackest Beautiful”
Imagine if RATM thrashed a little less and Zack De La Rocha screamed his way through every song instead of thrash/rapping through them and you got a pretty good idea what letlive. sounds like. The immensely popular post-hardcore band lead by extreme vocalist Jason Aalon Butler has landed a major release on the near-legendary Epitaph Records label (home to the likes of Alkaline Trio, Social Distortion, and Pennywise). It’s hard to call signing with Epitaph Records selling out though, and one listen to letlive.’s The Blackest Beautiful will quickly dispel any such notions anyway.
Loaded with just as many screams, shouts, and surprisingly discernable lyrics on topics such as government corruption, racial tension, self loathing, and the haves vs. the have-nots as any of letlive.’s previous albums, The Blackest Beautiful does bring to mind thrash legends RATM, but here the rage against the machine is emboldened with a much more punk attitude (and sound) as opposed to a hip-hop/metal one. Tracks like “That Fear Fever” do thrash about pretty heavily, but resort to the bounce over the mosh to channel its angry energy. The breakdown at about two thirds of the way through the song is some of the heaviest sludge you’ll hear this side of any post-hardcore band. The distorted “Ave Maria” that hauntingly draws the track to a close over the distorted Year Zero-ish white guitar noise is inspiringly frightening. The album’s opening track, and first single, “Banshee (Ghost Fame)’ launches the album into the post-hardcore stratosphere of emotion we’ve come to expect from letlive. and is the perfect track to introduce your letlive. deprived friends to (if you want to get them hooked on the band too that is). “Virgin Dirt,” with it’s near spoken word interlude, bewails the dangers of taking basic human intimacy and connectivity for granted. “Younger,” with its almost mainstream sounding rock approach and lyrics about “only the good dying young” is a ready made radio hit in the gloaming. Butler sings more convincingly here than I’ve ever heard him sing before.
Guitarists Jeff Sahyoun and Jean Nacimento weave some intricate guitar lines that oscillate between being heavy as hell thrashing, light as a feather atmospheric, and frighteningly phantom-like as they bounce off one another’s distorted manipulations and feedbacks. Perhaps the album’s most descriptive track, “27 Club,” is an amalgamation of every nuanced post-hardcore/thrash/punk/spoken and screamed word sound/lyric on the album. It all comes together quite well to form a listening experience that brought to mind everything from Billy Corgan’s draggin’ drawl on “X.Y.U.” to De La Rocha’s muted moan on “Born of a Broken Man” to Kurt Cobain’s self-loathing screams on…well, just about everything. Sorry if my frame of reference is a bit old, but you can’t knock a band that calls to mind what many in Gen Y (and the majority of letlive.’s fans’ demographic) would consider the legends of alt-rock. letlive. might not be legends of alt-rock yet, but they definitely have the potential to be just that.
You can catch them on tour currently with Vans Warped Tour.
SAT 7/27 West Palm Beach, FL (Miami) Cruzan Amphitheatre
SUN 7/28 Orlando, FL Central Florida Fairgrounds
MON 7/29 Charlotte, NC Charlotte Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
TUE 7/30 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
WED 7/31 Milwaukee, WI Marcus Amphitheatre
FRI 8/2 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion
SAT 8/3 San Antonio, TX AT&T Center
SUN 8/4 Houston, TX Reliant Park – Main St. Lot