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letlive – The Blackest Beautiful

| 22 July 2013 | Reply


Label: Epitaph

Release Date: July 9, 2013

Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by: Mike Hubbard

Long known for their high-energy live shows, letlive have never quite been able to capture that energy on a studio recording. The Blackest Beautiful, released on July 9, 2013, is letlive’s fourth and latest attempt to make that breakthrough in the studio. It is a high bar to reach, and unfortunately, The Blackest Beautiful once again falls a bit short.  If you have never caught letlive live, you are missing something. Don’t judge them by their studio output; they are definitely in their element live. You never know what vocalist Jason Butler is going to do in a live setting, from climbing and leaping off of the speakers to writhing on the floor, he and the band pour out their hearts on stage. It is one of the more physical shows you will ever experience. I had the opportunity to see a letlive show during the process of writing this review and it reinforced in my mind both the fact that they put on an amazing live performance, and the fact that their latest studio recording does not give justice to the band.  One thing that is clear about letlive is that Butler is their heart and soul. If letlive were a painting, the band would be the canvas and Butler would be the color. Butler is the only remaining original member, but the rest of the band are the same as appeared on their previous album, 2010’s Fake History, with the exception of the drummer. Former drummer Anthony Rivera left band in October 2012, and was replaced in the studio this time around with Christopher Crandall, although Crandall is not credited as a full member of the band. The instrumentals on The Blackest Beautiful are tight, but nothing stands out.

One thing that DOES standout on The Blackest Beautiful (besides Bulter’s vocals) is the wide range of musical styles and emotions which are found in the 11 tracks. The album opens with “Banshee (Ghost Frame)”, which lands in a funky groove for much of the song. The third track, “White America’s Beautiful Black Market” travels through a number of different styles, including a jazzy swing feel. Elements of hip-hop can be heard in “Banshee (Ghost Frame)” and “White America’s Beautiful Black Market” as well. letlive’s hardcore roots are most evident on “That Fear Fever” and “The Priest and Used Cars”. The final track is titled “27 Club”. Clocking in at 7:28, “27 Club” takes the listener on an emotional rollercoaster, building and releasing tension throughout. Even in the softer spoken sessions you can feel the intensity in Butlers whispers. For me, “27 Club” is one of the highlights of the album.  Don’t judge letlive by The Blackest Beautiful, or by any of their studio recordings. If you have the opportunity to see them perform live, do it, and be prepared to see something that you have never seen before. Go ahead and buy The Blackest Beautiful in order to familiarize yourself with the music that will be performed, but expect to be blown away when you see them perform live.

Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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