by Casey Boland

Arguably no other contemporary hardcore band has taken risks and renovated its sound more than Blacklisted. Arising from the desperate streets of Philadelphia, the band churned out knuckle-dragging hardcore as hardscrabble as the neighborhoods from which it came. Blacklisted played it straight, hard, and fast. As could be expected, the band was indistinguishable from its peers. 2008’s Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God marked a sharp shift. From tightened musicianship to unhindered exploration, Blacklisted redefined themselves by defiantly thinking outside the box.

The P.I.G. (The Problem Is G.)

So it comes as no shock that NODTBHMTM (Deathwish, Inc., 2009) continues Blacklisted’s evolution. The band sacrifices some of the velocity and might of its formative era in favor of a leaner (though no less spite-filled) rock attack. Vocalist George Hirsch continues to explore what diehard fans malign as a Keith Buckley affectation. Given the band’s increasingly rock-oriented feel, it’s hard to deny the Every Time I Die comparison.

Still, Blacklisted spruce up the rock with unusual sounds and occasional experiments, mostly in the form of brief interludes. They surely could have developed these into whole songs, such as the “The P.I.G. (The Problem Is G.),” a folksy, acoustic downer. Hirsch is not a skilled crooner, yet he effectively evokes the rage and despair so prevalent in the band’s catalog without screams or distortion.

NODTBHMTM is a flawed, though fascinating chapter from a band that refuses to be easily classified. I’d rather see them lose the cock-rock tendencies and embrace their adventurous instincts. If Blacklisted could wed their innovative ambitions with their primal mosh urges, they’d have an impressive record on their hands.