Contemporary hardcore punk more closely resembles Korn than
it does old-school leaders like Agnostic Front or D.O.A.
The sound of barre chords sliding up guitar necks has given way to
the crashing thunder of drop-D-tuned quasi-metal riffage, as exemplified
by such bands as Hatebreed, Bane, and American Nightmare.
On its debut album Blacklisted offers no challenge to this
remodeling of the hardcore sound, delivering 13 tracks without much
deviation from the current blueprint. It's a respectable debut but
ultimately an undistinguished one, and by the end ...The Beat Goes
On has taken on an unintentionally ironic meaning: it goes on,
and on, and on. Given that the album runs only 23 minutes, this indicates
a rather limited imagination on the part of the band.
Things begin strongly, with early tracks that explode out of the
gate and end quickly. "Bruising Serenade," at track three,
sets an early peak with a punishing riff and intense vocals, although
its troubling lyrics hint at domestic abuse without effectively establishing
a persona separate from the singer himself; without such a distancing
device, the song risks coming off as uncritical in its depiction of
masculine violence. While I doubt this was the band's intention, it
mars an otherwise powerful song. "I Refuse" follows this
with a negative manifesto, which again delivers sheer sonic power
but falls flat lyrically, with very general sentiments of moving beyond
a blanket refusal toward, well, something. It's literally that vague:
"I need to be moving towards, Something/I need to be screaming
for, Something." Hardcore is a young person's game, and it may
not be fair or reasonable to expect philosophical profundity at all
times, but this is still pretty vague. Later tracks maintain this
generality: "I'd say something if I had something to say,"
goes "Old Friend," in a telling moment. "What's Wrong
With George?" seems to be an attack on the President, but it's
again sufficiently fuzzy as to leave doubt.
Blacklisted hardly stands or falls entirely on the weight of its
lyrics, though. In other departments the band reaches mixed results.
Its guitar riffs effectively mine the modern hardcore songbook; while
far from innovative, they bash out formidable doses of musical anger.
On the percussive front, however, the drummer (the insert offers no
information on individual band member identities) taps out mostly
standard-issue hardcore beats without much variety or noticeable virtuosity.
Altogether, ...The Beat Goes On falls short of standing out
but invites no harsh criticism, with the exception of the ridiculously
bland four-minute instrumental "Mother Theresa," which spells
"padding to elevate a 19-minute EP to LP status" while misspelling
the poor woman's name. Hardcore fans might find interest in Blacklisted
as a marker of where the scene is at right now (though they presumably
already know), but not as signpost as to where it's headed; this is
following, not leading, the pack.
2. Wolves At My Door
3. Bruising Serenade
4. I Refuse
5. Life Moves On
6. What's Wrong With George?
7. Old Friend
8. Brightest Son
9. How Quickly We Forget (Again)
10. Do You Feel?
11. Coming Clean
12. Good Grief
13. Mother Theresa
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