Hardcore is a fickle genre -- neither the fans nor the bands themselves have much interest in straying too far from the norm. In Blacklisted's case, it's not so much what the Philly-based band has to say that's significant, but the relentless, reckless and spiteful way in which that message is presented.
Blacklisted's street-tough attitude and violently aggressive delivery are perfectly honed. The band's music is sloppy enough to avoid sounding like prefabricated hardcore, but there's just enough polish and panache to lift them above the ranks of garage-bound failures. ...The Beat Goes On, which clocks in at slightly under 24 minutes, doesn't mince music or words: it's clenched-fist, angst-ridden madness set to a series of corrosive rhythms and brain-bashing beats.
George Hirsch's raspy scream-shouted vocals bring to mind The Bronx's Matt Caughthran and American Nightmare's Wes Eisold, though they aren't as frantic or flailing. On "Tourist" and "Brightest Son", Hirsch artfully hollers his way to the front of the pit, his lyrics just discernible enough to separate the vocals from the musical torrent that swirls behind them. There's a certain measure of rabble rousing at work here, too -- "I Refuse" and "Do You Feel?"'s gang-led choruses hint at fist-pumping street punk, recalling the NYHC glory days of Judge, Youth of Today and Agnostic Front. At this pace, it's unlikely that Hirsch's throat will make it more than a few more years.
While Blacklisted's hardcore is pretty much standard fare, few bands can match their energy. "What's Wrong With George?" and "Bruising Serenade" epitomize the band's ferocious, speed-driven sound, but it's drummer Shawn Foley who edges out the others as the band's secret weapon. Foley is as adept at delivering a straightforward 4/4 beat (as witnessed on "Tourist") as he is at adding tasteful traces of metal and post-punk to "How Quickly We Forget (Again)"'s controlled chaos. His noise-induced terrorism ranges from heavy tom rolls and sludgy rhythms to angular, incendiary beats whipped out at a million miles per hour. Instrumental closer "Mother Theresa" lets Foley and crew show off their chops without vocal interference; the swirling cataclysm of distorted fury has its intimidating moments, but ultimately misses the mark, demonstrating just how important Hirsch's fiery vocals are to defining the band's sound.
Adrenalized hardcore can only go so far, but there's something to be said for a band whose recorded material truly bears witness to its killer live presence. There's so much anger, aggression and sheer energy in these tracks that repeat plays will likely stir you (and any nearby listeners) into an improvised mosh-pit frenzy. Hardcore isn't about who can get in your face the most, but Blacklisted certainly do their damndest to stare you into submission. Shout for shout, it doesn't get much more real than this.