Blacklist Union

BLACKLIST UNION – Back To Momo

Blacklist Union - Back To MomoSometime every now and again, along comes a band that is said to be the next big thing, the band that will be the one to headline the biggest festivals and to tour the biggest arenas when all the old dinosaurs are dead and gone. Blacklist Union are such a band. Formed back in 2004 by lead singer Tony West and guitarist Todd Youth, the band released their debut album After The Mourning in 2006, followed by Bakin’ Bread With The Devil in 2008. Their third album ‘Til Death Do Us Part came out in 2012 and according to their home page, the band’s records were met by critical acclaim all across the globe. Ok. Thing is, I see myself as somewhat a music nerd that love to check out new bands all the time and I have never heard of this band before. Well, what I do know is that they hail from California and are managed by one Doug Goldstein, once the manager of Guns N’ Roses. Goldstein has made comments about Blacklist Union, saying that they are the most interesting band since Guns N’ Roses broke through and that their new album is the best record he has heard since Appetite For Destruction (1987). It’s things like that and marks like “from Memphis to Melbourne to Louisiana to London, Blacklist Union instantly made a mark throughout the rock n’ roll underground” and “Tony West and Todd Youth, two of rock n’ roll’s most controversial outlaws” that make me a bit suspicious. Sometimes it’s better to not overdo what your writing. I have also tried to find out about the rest of the band members but I really can’t seem to find any info about who they are. But – no matter what, it’s the music that should do the talking and all the big talk has made me interested so I guess it worked. Let’s find out, then, if the music can live up to all the big words here.

After a quick intro, the opening track “Alive N Well, Smack In the Middle Of Hell” bursts loose raving like wounded bear. It’s a real ball buster of a song that mixes early Aerosmith with Guns N’ Roses. It’s really a very good tune with a mighty groove, but it lacks identity, I’m afraid. “Shake It Off” is another really kick ass tune, but it borrows a hell of a lot from Guns N’ Roses – and at times Tony West sounds so alike Axl Rose that it’s clone-warning. “Mirror, Mirror On The Wall” is on the softer side, a pretty groovy pop song with some really catchy melodies. This kind of song actually suits the band well because their influences aren’t that obvious here. “Evil Eye” is a real killer that stands out a bit and shows that the band do have a style of their own – at least for a quck while. “Rock N Roll Outlaw” sound like a sleazier Aerosmith with a big groove and a nice hook – great song. One of my favourite songs here are the title track, a rocker that sound like Kiss with some big time sleaze added. The guitar solo is also very Ace Frehley. I don’t mind, I love Ace Frehley. “We Are Not Saints” has a lot of – again – Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses in it, but I also hear 70’s Alice Cooper and if the song is good enough, that’s a fine mix for me. Of course, it’s a matter of taste, but this song doesn’t go anywhere, it’s predictable and to me, this is skip button alert. Take a pop song, add Ramones and some Guns N Roses and voila, you have “Meet Me On Zen Street”. I like it – it has groove and a great melody that sticks. Then we have “Wined, Dined And 69’d”. You can guess just by the title what kind of song this is. This is how you create a big ass cliché, folks – it’s every bit as clichéd as the title suggests. This should have stayed in the vaults. However, the guys end the record in great way, “Read Between The Lines” is one this record’s finest moments. It’s a heavy and sleazy rocker with a dark groove and some really contagious hooks.

At the end of the day, this record leaves me a bit puzzled as I’m not really sure whether I like it or not. See, song wise it’s mostly a damn good record, but unfortunately, Blacklist Union lacks all identity. I can hardly find one little trace of what this band sound like when they are themselves. Aerosmith and Guns N Roses are their main – and huge – influences, but here and there I also hear Ratt, Kiss, Mötley Crüe and Faster Pussycat, but what I don’t hear is Blacklist Union. Also, even though singer West has a really great set of pipes he has a tendency to sound somewhat monotone. A few songs works, but after a whole album his voice has a tendency to annoy – a little more variation vocally wouldn’t hurt. There are also some too forgettable tunes on here, which doesn’t help either. But the biggest deal here is the lack of identity. Now, I have no problems with unoriginal bands, as long as you have your own identity and a bunch of great tunes, I’m there. So let the influences be just influences and make sure that Blacklist Union sound like Blacklist Union and no-one else, then it will be easier to pick up on the great tunes, tunes that they obviously can write. Can I see this band making it big? Yes. With this album? No.

6/10

Tracklist:

1. Intro
2. Alive N Well Smack In The Middle Of Hell
3. Shake It Off
4. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
5. Evil Eye
6. Superjaded
7. Rock N Roll Outlaw
8. Back To Momo
9. We Are Not Saints
10. It’s All About You
11. Meet Me On Zen Street
12. Graveyard Valentine
13. Wined, Dined & 69’d
14. Read Between The Lines

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