Black President - Black President (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Black President

Black President (2008)

Cobra Music

The "supergroup" Black President was the idea of Bad Religion's Greg Hetson and Goldfinger's Charlie Paulson, and officially came into the works circa 2005. The same year, a well-spoken African-American was serving in the United States Senate -- this same African-American was elected the 44th president of the United States in late 2008, somewhere near the time that Hetson left the band. Paulson should have immediately took note of the loss of irony and changed the band's name to something a little less moronic, but instead, he and Black President released a less-than-promising debut that borderlines mainstream garbage.

Opening track "Last Fucking Hope" is an undeniable glance at some vague competence and a unique, driving, hard rock undertone -- it's unfortunate that vocalist Christian Martucci will beat the concept to death throughout the course of the record. His style is a fine brew of Three Days Grace worship with a tinge of a campy, Elvis-like demeanor. Saving it from complete aural diarrhea, the rhythm section is surprisingly tight with a number of standout riffs that give the music a particularly admirable swagger. But like blowing on your spoon full of hot, rich, and delicious Campbell's Tomato Soup, Martucci's lungs will dull any initial intensity.

Adding to the cacophony, when peeling back the slick, black pages that make up the amateurish Photoshopped artwork, you'll read the compelling manifestos: "Media, media, I'm fucking sick of ya', you fill my life with bullshit trivia" and "why are you so negative? your anger needs a sedative" -- things probably half of us wrote when we were 13. It's one thing to harness the juvenile, belligerent, and simplistic nature of Black Flag's "Rise Above," and it's another thing to come off lazy. Black President does the latter.

Admittedly, they seem to have a decent handle on hooks; it's just a matter of knowing how to articulate them into the genre without sounding like the next thing I'd hear on 98 Rock. Along with the aforementioned "Last Fucking Hope," the surprisingly decent tracks are the ones that abandon punk completely; the-foot tapping "Neon" and the huge chorus of "Halleluja" are some clear highlights.

Black President's name may render groundbreaking and revolutionary connotations; their music, however, only displays how well versed the band is in radio rock mediocrity; there's nothing racy, dangerous, or controversial about them -- it's all incredibly safe.