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The Blackest Beautiful

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Album Review

L.A.-based hardcore unit Letlive broke through in a big way with their 2010 album Fake History, finally capturing some of the bone-breaking energy of their live show in a way that translated to album as well as developing their arrangement skills with atypical song structures and inventive expansion of the sometimes formulaic post-hardcore sound. Follow-up fourth album The Blackest Beautiful takes the strengths of Fake History even further, offering up 11 tracks of technically dazzling and soulfully delivered aggression. Frontman Jason Butler's vocal twists fuel the fire throughout The Blackest Beautiful, jumping acrobatically from screaming rage to tight, sophisticated harmonies to frenzied funky riffing to emotively melodic parts, often all within the same song. Beginning with opening track "Banshee (Ghost Fame)," Butler's lyrics are as inventive and thoughtful as the group's song structures, tackling the complex topic of chasing fame and losing integrity through a series of chants, screams, offhandish laughter, and smooth, soulful lines. The pace never really lets up from there, with Butler attacking topics like corporate greed, racism, and the heavy weight of growing up in a broken home. Musically, Letlive are equally restless, moving through heavy, pummeling riffs reminiscent of Refused or Glassjaw, while breaking into a groove on almost every track, sometimes even melting down into acoustic sections without ever losing intensity. Standout tracks are plentiful, but absolute must-hears include the Soundgarden-meets-Deftones frenzy of "The Dope Beat," the relentless high-speed blasting of "The Priest and Used Cars," and a brilliantly arranged critique of corporatized health care and government corruption on "White America's Beautiful Black Market." The Blackest Beautiful is not just more ambitious, interesting, thoughtful, and boundary-pushing than any of Letlive's previous work, the album is engaging and surprisingly hooky for any record falling under the hardcore umbrella. Fans will be overjoyed and those unfamiliar with Letlive or even modern hardcore circa 2013 should begin with this compelling document of anger, loss, and struggle.

Customer Reviews

SoulPunx2k13. Letlive brings LA hardcore to the forefront

Hailing from the Inglewood/Westchester region of Los Angeles, Letlive. has delivered once again. The Blackest Beautiful is a progressive hardcore album that roots and taps into Letlive's storied history in LA hardcore. Letlive began playing YMCA's, backyards, and small venues across the City of Angels, but now the SoulPunx are spreading and hopefully taking over the scene.
The sequel to the critically acclaimed Fake History offers groovy beats, visceral vocals, and an intense message. Letlive always has stayed true to their fans and original roots, and Banshee (ghost fame) shows how a hard rock outfit can transcend out of the most pits into the ears of new fans. Be sure to check out Letlive.'s older albums pre Epitaph: Speak like you talk and Exhaustion, Salt, Water. Letlive played the underground hardcore scene for years, and their taste has developed, learned, and grasped into the Blackest Beautiful. Frontman Jason Butler delivers a performance for the ages with his intensity, frequency and duration of showmanship. Songs such as the Dopebeat and Banshee will offer crowds the opportunity to jump around in a frenzy at Warped Tour. The 27 club provides listeners with an introspection into faith and true hardcore punk music. Listeners of older AFI, Refused, and Glassjaw should definitely listen. STAND UP!

Great energy, cloudy mix

I love the songs, the performance, the recording, and production value, but the mix/master falls short for me. I thought it was originally iTunes compression, but after purchasing the CD, the mix still lacks for my taste. Some really great sounds individually, but as a whole I feel it collapsing towards the middle and not jumping from the speakers. Studio speakers and car speakers both confirm my opinion.

Low volume yeilds the best results for me, but this is not the way this music is intended to be listened to nor is it how I plan on listening to it. At medium and loud volumes it becomes too crunchy and looses definition.

Great CD musically, however, which will contribute to the many times this CD will be played.


Didnt grow on me till a few re-runs since i was used to fake historys heavyness sound. Once it grew on me i hit me hard. Been on repeat daily for the last 2 weeks and going strong. Its differnt from fake history, with more creative and structured chourses and bridges.
Love it


Formed: 2002 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Based out of Los Angeles, post-hardcore quintet Letlive formed in 2002. With a frantic, driving sound, the band fuses some of the technical fury of At the Drive-In with a more direct, passionate delivery. The band made its debut in 2004 with Exhaustion, Saltwater, and Everything in Between, released on At One Records. They followed up quickly the next year, releasing Speak Like You Talk, all the while slowly building up their credentials. During these years, the band had a bit of a rotating lineup...
Full Bio
The Blackest Beautiful, letlive.
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Customer Ratings