Review Summary: Expanding their sound a bit, Blacklisted release a generally triumphant hardcore record, albeit with some questionable decisions.
Last year, Blacklisted released “Peace on Earth, War on Stage” to much unanticipated critical acclaim (including this site/reviewer). That EP was a pretty tight, controlled burst of aggression that really made Blacklisted come off as even more of “hardcore visionaries” (see: I’m gay) than their first few LP’s hinted at. With the follow up LP “Heavier than Heaven, Lonelier than God”, Blacklisted seemingly continue down the path of excellent album titles, but perhaps stumble a bit when it comes to paving the way in hardcore.
What is immediately disappointing was the decision to include two tracks from the EP, “Canonized” and “Memory Layne”. “Canonized” is pretty much a straight re-recording, with few differences besides a slight town down in the vocal department. However, “Memory Layne” has had a few changes in production (particularly the guitars) that make the song feel a little less full, and the final cry of “and all I know is the downside” kind of cheapens the ending. While the re-recordings aren’t bad, you always hope that they won’t re-use any material.
The new songs are for the most part not disappointing at all, except for “Circuit Break”, where Blacklisted channel all the worst parts of the Mars Volta and make a droning, guitar feedback/ambient heavy song that when it isn’t going on and on, sounds way too much like “Setting Sun” for my tastes. Everything else has Blacklisted’s signature sound; Hirsch yells in a authorative manner (although there is more singing here than before), Nean and Foster use slower, thrash based riffs, and the rhythm section of Foley and Walling lay down a good backbone. More than ever you’ll see Nean and Foster go off and include some untraditional riffs or guitar lines, and they rely on dual guitar interactions more-so than before. It is a more evolved and technically sound Blacklisted than ever, for sure.
“I am Weighing Me Down” is a catchy, upbeat song that was quite unexpected. With a chorus that invites you to yell along, and a groove that is infectious, it’s a song that could probably expose Blacklisted to a whole new audience (that fans probably do not want). Opener “Stations” harkens back to their older records, while “Self Explosive” and “Burning Monk” kind of carry the heavier thrash influence of this record. The real new highlight though is closer “Wish”, which really gives the album an epic feel and really shows you how well the sound Blacklisted are creating can work when firing on all cylinders.
While the album suffers from a bit of repetitiveness and a feeling of maybe it isn’t as original as they’d all like us to think, Heavier than Heaven, Lonelier than God is an great LP filled with great songs and some interesting new ideas. Although they are perhaps falling into the scene they seem so hard to be trying to break free from, Blacklisted are still one of the better bands in hardcore, with a unique sound that I can only half-hope becomes the new platform from which other bands rip off all their ideas.