Until the 2011 re-release of ‘Fake History’ thanks to Epitaph, California’s letlive. were a rather unknown post-hardcore outfit outside of the underground scene in America. However, with the labels push and reputation, letlive. soon grew from underground wannabe heroes to a band who released one of the greatest post-hardcore albums in recent years, and secured tours with the likes of Deftones. So, it’s safe to say the weight on the shoulders for follow-up ‘The Blackest Beautiful’ was almost overwhelming.
Fast-forward to July 2013 and letlive. have most definitely delivered an album that can not only stand toe-to-toe with the critical acclaim of ‘Fake History’, but in many ways stands above it. Opener and lead track ‘Banshee (Ghost Fame)’ admittedly fed ammunition to the existing haters, complaining about frontman Jason Aalon Butler rapping.
Though this energetic number may be one of the more “controversial” songs on offer here, what’s to follow is nothing short of pure excellence. Butler‘s soulful cleans are far catchier and clean-cut than before, with particular stand out moments coming in the form of ‘Pheromone Cvlt’, ‘Empty Elvis’ and ‘Virgin Dirt’.
On top of this, the lyrical content from the mind of the frontman is holds far more depth and potency than the cliche boy-meets-girl-who-broke-their-heart subject matter of many peers in the same genre today. Religion is a subject tapped into with the over 7 minute long closer ’27 Club’, which sees Jason, scream “They said he talks like a christian and walks like an atheist”, then mumur in silence about martyrs to really provoke and rattle your thoughts whilst still keeping you on the edge of your seat.
It’s not just Butler who deserves credit for the piece of art that is ‘The Blackest Beautiful’, axe-men Jeff Sahyoun and Jean Nascimento deliver some of their best fret-work to date and bassist Ryan Johnson really helps to pulsate the album’s heart from start-to-finish. However, it won’t be until you witness this work in a live environment that you’ll truly be able to digest the band’s full potential and what they’re all about.
Put simply, ‘The Blackest Beautiful’ further cements letlive.‘s reputation as one of the genre’s best craftsmen. Definitely one of the most important albums that 2013 will see, ‘The Blackest Beatiful’ carries soul, purpose, struggle, passion, urgency, aggression, will further define what music is worth listening to and heighten your satisfaction of your tastes and expectations for bands and records to follow.
Written by Zach Redrup