Friday, May 20, 2011

The Blackout: Hope

     The Blackout then. A band pretty new to me in that I'd heard of them, but never heard any of their recordings. A Welsh hard-rock band formed in 2003, this album is their fourth and most recent. From what I can gather, the band released a mini-album in 2006, prior to their actual debut, We Are The Dynamite!, in 2007, which really pushed the band into the limelight. At the time the fastest selling record from the Fierce Panda recording label, I was intrigued to sample this new edition to their hopefully as fierce discography.
     Having dipped into their previous records in research for this review, I found that this eleven track album, though equally as passionate, loud and crazy (in a good way) feels a lot more together and flowing than previous efforts from the band. The title 'Hope', for me, coaxes forth images of light, happiness and joy, and while all these elements prove their presence in the tracks, I feel the album is still shackled by tension and underlying worries. Listening to this record over and over again, I couldn't shake the feeling that this wasn't really what the band was like. The sound was very much a cover-up or an act for me, failing to initiate an honesty in most songs that I could relate to. This is my opinion, bear in mind, and I'm sure others will disagree.
     The reasons for those disagreements though, will probably be valid. The album is well-produced, while retaining a certain aggression that you can rock along to. The sound from the two vocalists on some songs feels muffled slightly by the hum of the synthesisers and bass, but on most this balance and instrumentation is executed perfectly. There isn't a lot of variety from track to track, but enough to keep the listen interesting, from the electric sound of 'Higher and Higher' to the pounding screams on 'The Devil Inside'. On first listen to this record, I was immediately hit by the raw, unadulterated sound of The Blackout, punching through the layer of mainstream music and the light of brilliant rock shining through. I feel the disappointments with this album would have a hard time fighting back the praise.
     My previous complaint, I must stress, is only really with most songs. The overall feel of the album is one of highs and lows. The lows are the songs that feel fake, with the highs being passionate anthems like 'You're Not Alone' and 'Keep On Moving'. The fact that these two tracks are near to the end of the album reinforces the idea of this album as one that flows. The record starts very angry and pent up, but you feel as though the band relax and let go a little closer to the end. My favourite track is 'Higher and Higher' simply because for me, it's the one that stands out as a little different to the rest of the tracks.
     Overall, this is album of flying highs and tracks that feel very mediocre. A mixture of the mainstream and alternative that I can see the appeal of, but don't find that amazing after repeated listen. As a one-off, blown away, but for continued playing, I can very easily imagine myself getting bored of this record. Better than most of today's rock music, I look forward to The Blackout's next installment. Check it out.