By Doug Wallen
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 19, 2008

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Photo by Michael Persico

Blacklisted were just in Quebec. Before that, Belgium. And following the release show for their new album here in Philly, the guys are touring America for three solid months. Being a hardcore band, they're hewing closely to all-ages venues, from American Legion and VFW posts to warehouses and a Four Seasons.

So the dudes are road warriors. And judging by the toughness of their records, they could handle a year-long tour of Antarctica if only there were a punk scene there. Blacklisted's second outing Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God is another thunderous mass of bumper-sticker shouts and churning parts. It's more foreboding than their previous stuff, which was plenty catchy but nothing mind-blowing.

The guys--screamer George Hirsch, guitarists Jon Nean and Dave Foster, bassist Dave Walling and drummer Shawn Foley--use time and space better now, getting impressive mileage from the dramatic pauses between outbursts. "Matrimony" even has the nerve to introduce some atmospheric, decidedly un-hardcore effects at the end, not so different from the approach Paint It Black took on their brilliant New Lexicon.

Released on the powerhouse Massachusetts label Deathwish Inc.--home to Philly's A Life Once Lost--Heavier Than Heaven doesn't shy away from touchy topics, and not just in the album title. "I Am Weighing Me Down" sees Hirsch underscoring his self-sufficiency. He closes with the line, "We don't need Jesus to please us/ It's not as comforting as you'd like to guess."

He also attacks marriage, or at least rushed or misguided marriage, on the aforementioned "Matrimony." He observes a new marriage "every month" among his friends, defending his choices and questioning theirs before launching into a gritted-teeth mantra of "Just want to love myself."

Divisive as they may be, such sentiments pick up added weight from the fact that Hirsch isn't as mealy-mouthed as so many hardcore vocalists, and you can understand most of his lyrics on the first pass. You may not agree with Hirsch, but there's an urgency and defiance to his songs that seems born more out of thoughtfulness than immaturity.




Sun., March 23, 2pm. $10. With Cold World, Let Down, Shipwreck A.D., Soul Control + Mongoloids. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619. www.r5produc

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