Blacklisted - Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God
Deathwish Inc.
11 songs (19:37)
Release year: 2008
Deathwish Inc.
Reviewed by Phil
Archive review

Modern hardcore. For many metal fans, those two words mean it’s time to turn and run like your ass is on fire. From all the Internet moaning and groaning, you’d think that the hardcore genre singlehandedly ruined heavy music by spawning the lecherous legions of mall-kid metalcore. Sure, hardcore influenced an entire generation of bands that ended up being total crap. So what? I’m not throwing out my Led Zeppelin albums because Whitesnake and House of Lords sucked.

Yep, I’m here to emphatically state that there are still a few hardcore bands that do it right. These modern bands stick to the basics of the genre, but they also add enough diversity and new ideas to keep the sound fresh and vibrant. One example is Philadelphia’s Blacklisted. In 2008, the band released Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God on Deathwish, Inc. Records. The album, all 19 minutes of it, featured a definite shift in the band’s core sound. Gone were the typical throaty screams and constant, blistering speed of their early releases. Front man George Hirsch lightened the vocals to a more listener-friendly scream, and the band slowed down and channeled their inner groove. The resulting 11 songs are fresh and interesting, even to these crusty, desensitized ears.

There are four songs on the album that I really want to concentrate on. Don’t get me wrong, the other seven songs are all powerful hardcore tracks packed with energy and crushing breakdowns. But, these four songs all have unique traits that really peaked my interest. The fifth track on the album, Memory Lane, kicks off with a ton of fury. The band is flying at warp speed, and Hirsch is screaming his head off. But after 20 seconds the guitars almost disappear, and a slow drum and bass part carries the song. Hirsch adds weirdly innocent bellows over the top. This section feeds directly into one of the most monstrous breakdowns I’ve heard in a while. The pressure builds, and soon the band breaks into a full-on rock flavored chord progression. Hirsch’s emotional voice pleads, begs and questions as the band rides the lick again and again. The breakdown comes to a close with Hirsch repeating, “All I know is the downside.” Next up is Circuit Breaker. The song is over four minutes long, and it too starts off fast. But after 18 seconds, the band kicks into a slow, post-hardcore section. Hirsch emotes again and again, “I have nothing to prove.” The openness of this section emphasizes Hirsch’s powerful vocals. There may even be a mild jazz influence in play, as the song almost grinds to a halt at the 47-second mark. Some taps on the cymbals, steady bass notes and a sloppy guitar solo last for a full minute, then the slow section kicks back in. Hirsh again sings, “I have nothing to prove” over and over. The guitars fade, and the long song slowly ends with a whimper.

Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God closes with the one/two punch of Canonized and Wish. Canonized is only a minute and a half long, and it’s all riff. The riff starts off rock as hell…catchy, simple and strong. The drums and Hirsch’s gruff vocals kick in, and the song starts steamrolling. An open breakdown of the riff pushes into a mini musical interlude. Then the drums pound again, the riff follows and the song positively bounces with kinetic energy. There hasn’t been a heavy song with this much rhythm and groove since Sepultura’s golden age. Album closer Wish is a sprawling, emotional track that acts as a showcase for Hirsch’s sung lyrics. Heavy guitar lines, a sparse drum part and a sing-a-long ending push the tune way past the limits of normal hardcore.

Killing Songs :
Canonized, Circuit Breaker, Wish, Memory Lane
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