In 2007, Merthyr Tydfil mob The Blackout almost literally exploded onto the music scene. Debut full-length album ‘We Are The Dynamite!’ showed off everything the six-piece had to offer; the band’s ability to mix heavy guitars, clean vocals and screams went down well with kids everywhere (as well as making everybody wonder how the fuck Wales had so much musical talent popping up in recent years). The end result: the lads were able to venture out of those once restrictive Welsh Valleys and embark on numerous high-profile tours.
Two years on and the boys have a worldwide fan base, are touring internationally, and have graced the cover of many large music magazines. So without question, expectations are extremely high for the sextet’s sophomore album, ‘The Best In Town’ – the ten-track record that was recorded in El Paso, Texas and produced by A frontman Jason Perry shows The Blackout in a brand new light.
Opening track ‘ShutTheFuckUppercut’ is the perfect way to launch into a loud, outspoken record. The guitars are a lot heavier than you’d find on ‘We Are The Dynamite!’, and it blends well with Smith‘s somewhat demonic screams. Songs such as ‘The Fire’ and the humourously Nirvana-mocking titled ‘I Love Myself And I Wanna Live’ are perfect examples of how the sextet’s sound has matured over the years, and pushes them further into the post-hardcore genre.
Although for the most part they play it safe and continue to stick with the whole ‘sing a few lines then scream a few lines’ formula, recognition must be given to both Sean Smith and Gavin Butler for having much stronger vocals. Another noticeable change on this album is that Sean Smith actually sings, and in all honesty he’s pretty good at it too. When you get to tracks like ‘Top Of The World’ and ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’, it is quite surprising to hear a softer side to the Welsh boys, one in which we only had a taster of with ‘It’s High Tide Baby!’ from their previous recorded efforts. It’s quite enjoyable to hear a different edge to the band and in all honesty they pull it off rather well.
Inevitably people will assume that the six-piece are changing their sound to become more mainstream, much like the reaction received after anything the group have put out thus far since their debut EP. Branded ‘sell-outs’ or not, ‘The Best In Town’ reflects a strong and confident band, one of which have the courage to step out of their comfort zone and experiment with something new. Okay, so you might not think it to be the album of the year or even the best in the UK, but there’s no denying that The Blackout are the best in Merthyr Tydfil, and may even drag other larger homegrown acts to the ground on their way upwards.
Written by Kate Rees