Reviews Paint It Black Amnesia

Paint It Black

Amnesia

I hate to be that guy, but I got to admit that it’s getting more and more difficult to find an impressive hardcore album these days. I’m not talking about that record you listen to several times, really rock out to during the first week, rag on your friends for having never heard of it, and then retire it to the bottom of the CD bin where it’ll never see the light of day again. No, I’m talking about those albums that are so good, that years down the line you’ll give it a spin and immediately slap yourself for having not listened to it more often. This is the kind of album that you base friendships off of. If they don’t like it or haven’t heard of it, the relationship is dead, and they should probably be dead with it; if they love it, you’ve found a potential contender for that ever illusive best-friend-forever slot. What I’m trying to get at is, whenever an awesome groundbreaking album cements itself in music history, you get a bunch of followers who try to imitate that sound with little to no variation, resulting in a slew of trite and unoriginal records. Maybe I’m just jaded and outgrowing the scene, but in all honesty, how many times can I listen to three-chord raw energy punk rock, vicious holy-terror inspired beat down, melodic youth crew gang choruses, or abrasive d-beat punk? Realistically speaking, probably hundreds if not thousands of times. But let’s face it - those first twenty to thirty listens are a hell lot more mind blowing and gut wrenching than the thousandth listen. Now I’m not saying that new bands aren’t releasing some pretty solid records - they are, but most of these records are rehashes of the same thing with only minor tweaks.

With that rant off my chest, I could argue that Paint it Black is not transcending the limitations of hardcore music. That their latest release, Amnesia, is not the most original or awe inspiring album to grace my ears. And after all this complaining, you’d probably expect me to whine and nag that Amnesia is nothing more but just an extension to Paint it Black’s expanding discography. But screw it.

Even if hardcore might sound a bit tired or worn around the edges, I simply, in good conscience, cannot disregard a well written song or in this case, five great songs. Following in the footsteps of their latest release, New Lexicon, Amnesia continues to fuse together the abrasive hardcore sound with subtle interjections of melody. I was immediately floored by the album opener, “Salem,” which kicks off the album on a rather aggressive and venomous note - not much melody here, just hard hitting, abrasive, no bullshit, hardcore. Things start to regain melody, with the second track, “Homecoming,” which sounds as if it could have easily been tossed onto their second album, Paradise. But this brief moment of harmony quickly vanishes as soon as “Nicotine” and “Amnesia” roll in at a combined three minutes, bringing forth more of frontman Dan Yemin’s poignant and pissed lyricism. Again, I could argue it’s much of the same, but when it’s this well done… well I’m sure we can all make exceptions. A few more great hardcore songs simply couldn’t hurt.

Now onto track five - here’s where things start to get a bit more interesting. Amnesia’s closing track “Bliss” showcases Paint it Black at their best - aggressive and familiar tinged with a yearning for experimentation. Clocking in at three-and –a-half minutes, “Bliss,” sounds, as Yemin stated, like the lovechild of Fugazi and Jawbreaker. And after repeated listens, I can understand why these claims are being made - the song has fleeting moments of melody, journeys down several twists and turns, and ends on a rather grandiose buildup. Despite the remarks, the song remains distinctively Paint it Black.

So maybe I am just a bitter kid still grappling onto the hardcore scene, uncertain of where to exactly pinpoint my musical growth. Or maybe I just need to get over these irrational feelings that hardcore is struggling for originality as a genre. But either way, Amnesia is much welcomed - when a band can produce songs this solid, there’s really no need to be complaining. If anything, things are looking pretty good right about now - Paint it Black now has four solid albums tucked under their belt and another EP due out in August, and I’m still getting a kick out of hardcore. Jaded? Maybe a little. Optimistic and excited for what bands like Paint it Black have in store for us in the future? Definitely.

8.5 / 10Mark T.
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8.5 / 10

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