Review Summary: A testament as to why every aspect of an album is important.
Of all the albums I've listened to in the past couple years, most likely over a thousand at this point, letlive.'s Fake History
is one of the handful that still gets regular, constant plays. To me, it's everything that modern post-hardcore should be, and while many insist that they're only enjoyable because they rip off of some of the older greats of the genre (Glassjaw leaps most readily to mind,) I say: who better to rip off? Fake History
balanced on that tightrope between heavy and catchy quite well, and Jason Butler's vocals gave the album an extremely distinct, and somewhat wacky, edge. While the album was by no means perfect, it was certainly, forgive my hyperbole, a shining beacon in what is modern day post-hardcore.
The Blackest Beautiful
is still decidedly letlive. but has a much more melodic edge than their previous album. Just like on Fake History
Jason Butler somewhat steals the show, carrying the album on his back when it might be instrumentally lacking. It's choc full of his trademark rantish passages and his fairly distinct cleans. That's not to say that the instrumentation is bad though, as it too has its moments of shine. Musically, the album is a bit of a step down from Fake History
but is still quite solid.
At this point, you're probably wondering why I have this rated as low as I do, when it's obvious that I have few qualms about the music itself. To make a long story short, the production on this album is awful
, so much so that it really ruins the album for me. To be clear, I'm not by any means picky about production. While I can certainly appreciate a well produced album, or an album whose production may not be stellar but fits the music perfectly (as on Fake History
) it's rare that production actually hinders
an album's quality for me. But alas, The Blackest Beautiful
has such poor production that I find it rather difficult to see past it.
To put the production in perspective, it's like downloading a 320 kbps leak (come on, I know you've all done this) only to find that it's really just a muddy, awful sounding 128 kbps transcode. This might be a slight exaggeration, but it's in the ballpark. The guitars are muffled and lack any kind of punch whatsoever, the drumming is way overproduced which is extremely detrimental for an album in this vein, and Butler's vocals are painfully overproduced at times as well. To give this such a low score based on production alone is probably a bit harsh, but it baffles me that this kind of production made it onto the final master of the album.
Long story short, The Blackest Beautiful
is an otherwise solid effort marred by extremely poor production quality. Everything that you either love or hate about letlive. is present, but lacks the production necessary to really give an album like this the punch it should have. It's by no means a bad album, but it serves as a startling reminder that each and every part of the process of creating an album is important.