Blacklisted - Slow Moments b/w I Should Have Been A Murderer (Cover Artwork)


Slow Moments b/w I Should Have Been A Murderer (2018)

Six Feet Under Records

The problem with innovation in the genre of hardcore is that - by its very nature - hardcore is a style of music that often doesn't benefit from it.

Now before I'm chased through the countryside by angry, torch-wielding villagers, let me clarify: yes, innovation within the genre has produced some amazing music. As much as I love Minor Threat, imagine if that was as far as hardcore ever evolved? But it's when bands become too big for themselves - in idea, execution, even presence - that innovation becomes detrimental. Sometimes a group can get so carried away that they innovate themselves right out of what made them a good band in the first place.

For those who don't recall, in the early to mid-2000's Blacklisted ruled all. Their brand of stripped down, confrontational hardcore picked up where American Nightmare left us all hanging. Lyrically moving and utterly lacking in pretension, Blacklisted helped to define this new generation, becoming perhaps the most-emulated, present day hardcore band since No Warning.

The band's initial salvo of recordings (starting with their 2004 demo and culminating in 2007's Peace On Earth, War On Stage) showcased an unbridled energy and raw power lacking in so many of their contemporaries. That's why it was so disappointing when, starting with 2008's Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God, Blacklisted began to move away from the sound that made them such a force to be reckoned with. And, unfortunately, when such a stalwart group changes their musical pace they will inevitably leave some listeners behind.

Blacklisted's newest recording is a two-song 7", much like their previous outing for Six Feet Under. Style-wise, the band continues to distance themselves from their past ferocities. The A side, "Slow Moments," truly lives up to its name, sounding like a meandering, Quicksand-inspired, and ultimately pointless jam session. Side B, "I Should Have Been A Murderer," picks up the pace a bit, but is more of the lackluster same. The only thing that keeps Blacklisted's newest from sinking completely is that George Hirsch's vocals - though not as commanding as they once were - are still a major upside to the band.

There isn't an artist alive who wants to stagnate. So, ultimately, can I blame Blacklisted for tiring of their original, simplistic approach and graduating to more considered, less impactful music? No. I can't. But as a lifelong fan of punk rock and hardcore, I can find the band's current approach boring and neutered. It's all the more disappointing because of who they once were. This is the band that gave us those memorable words, "Don't care about my generation / don't care if I stand or fall / don't care about my reputation / I'm chasing aspirations I never saw." This is the band that affirmed I wasn't the only one who felt like "a tourist among my family and friends."

This "evolved" version of Blacklisted is summed perfectly up by their new single's artwork. A quote from Ben Franklin to George Washington that reads, "I must soon quit the scene." Pretentiousness notwithstanding, I think Blacklisted made good on this promise years ago.