The Blackest Beautiful
Framed and stamped by an outbreak of live shows, personal stories and a pack mentality form of chemistry, 2011’s Fake History pushed letlive. to gut the proverbial punk scene from the inside out. The California outfit adopted a polished template for hardcore that was equally primal and scrappy, twisting every last ounce out of their deafening originality until it was put to bed for a new obsession. Three years later, that’s become The Blackest Beautiful, an 11-track effort that leaves claw marks on the spine of the human element. Soulless industrialization, crumbling bonds, Worship And Tribute nods, and a novel to writing without limits return, but they move into darker, prettier tones that multiply, resonate and repeat. In terms of composition, letlive. are well aware of the grip they have on ambition.
On their own terms, “Banshee (Ghost Fame” and “Dreamer’s Disease” swing like unadulterated follow-ups to the band’s previous material, and in the midst of all the progressive chaos, “Younger” and “Pheromone Cvlt” are stunning displays of post-hardcore finding love in melodic vistas. Both tracks trek forward with deep and slightly dark lyricism, but prove to be the group’s catchiest work to date, letting simple transitions catapult into chunks of chaos. More so, The Blackest Beautiful is letlive retooling themselves to find a balance. New territories are mirrored by tempos that lace Jason Butler’s words as every second goes by (“The Priest And Used Cars”) while obvious works like “Virgin Dirt” throttle romance and the visceral edge to At The Drive-In to make the song more of an instrumental narcotic.
Through it all, Butler still sheds his skin – he’s just doing it more frequently, and as “27 Club” shows, to an entirely different extent. On the album’s closer, the vocalist bares his own soul for a personal soliloquy that plunges into shades of Refused before he opens up to a jagged bass line (“I’d kill myself, but suicide is so cliche”). Here, is where letlive. defy themselves to not be a makeshift band or a spotless new wonder, but to just be themselves. It makes The Blackest Beautiful one of the best recent examples of a group stripping their boundaries to present something fresh, even if they’ve done so hundreds and hundreds of times, venue by venue and song by song.
Listen: “Virgin Dirt”, “Pheromone Cvlt”, “Empty Elvis”, “27 Club” || Watch: “Banshee (Ghost Fame)”