A few short weeks back, US rockers Blacklist Union unleashed their single Alive N Well Smack in the Middle of Hell, a magnetic stomp of a song providing an inviting teaser to the band’s new album Back To Momo. If you too took up its enjoyable invitation to rebel rouse let us tell you now, as good as it actually was, it barely touched on the might and enterprise flooding the band’s fourth full-length. It is persistently rivalled and at times just outshine by the thrilling incitements offered by Back To Momo, which tells you just how outstanding the album is.
Formed in 2004 by frontman Tony West, the Los Angeles hailing Blacklist Union was soon stirring up attention, especially from the 2006 release of debut album After The Mourning. The band’s reputation and stature continued to grow as the band emerged on the US rock scene, second album Breakin’ Bread With The Devil two years later luring keener fan and media focus which its well-received successor Til Death Do Us Part in 2012 pushed much further. Now it is the turn of Back To Momo to try and breach the broadest spotlights, a success hard to bet against such its rebellious and anthemic might.
With guitarist/bassist Todd Youth and drummer Matt Starr alongside West, Blacklist Union opens up Back To Momo with that aforementioned single, Alive-N-Well Smack in the Middle of Hell. A lone guitar stirs the air first, it’s coaxing soon pierced by a vocal shrill and joined by tangy grooving. Part hard rock, part punk ‘n’ roll, the song hits its stride with a swagger and a closet full of irresistible hooks and sonic enterprise from the guitars. Addiction is the order of the day with the song and as it has feet and emotions fully involved, it is easy to think rock ‘n’ roll does not get much better than this, but oh yes it does, and often across Back To Momo.
The following Shake It Off has a more restrained canter to its blues washed hard rock, and a sense of familiarity which is only enriched by the excellent delivery and vocal attitude of West. Expectations are fed a touch by the song, surprises less bold than on tracks around it but again it has ears and enjoyment settling into a keen appetite before the outstanding Mirror, Mirror on the Wall turns the creative heat up. Erupting in a surge of rhythms and sonic flames, the track quickly swings boisterous hips and frees contagious resourcefulness as an equally riveting vocal adventure jumps in. The track is glorious, a rousing blend of The Stooges, Turbo Negro, and Jane’s Addiction with just the right amount of glam metal, and easily the best incitement upon the album, and the next single surely?
Both the actual upcoming single Evil Eye and Superjaded keep things fiercely bubbling. The first is a scintillating swamp of prowling beats, nagging riffs, and blues bred hues with again an irresistible vocal tempting from West whereas its successor merges the infection of rock pop with the tenacity of punk and the revelry of hard rock, it all contained in a vibrant but restrained embrace which only seems to intensify the invention of the song. Both tracks come with a wealth of flavours and styles, another great feature across the rock ‘n’ roll of the album, and maybe it is no surprise they do given inspirations to the band range from Guns N’ Roses to David Bowie, Bad Brains to Bauhaus, T Rex to The Mission and The Ramones, to name a few.
With a title like Rock N Roll Outlaw you pretty much have an idea of the type of sound on offer and true to pleasing form, the song is an enticing blend of southern and classic rock coated in that twang that gets the taste buds grinning. The music itself does not hold the biggest key to the song’s success, as flavoursome as it is, but the invention and mischievous twists the band put into it is what excites the imagination most before the album’s title track uncages some more punk lined rock ‘n’ roll which simply radiates belligerence within a anthemic blaze. With a skeleton of pulsating rhythms within melodic and infection oozing creative flesh, the song entwines echoes of Alice in Chains, New York Dolls, and Shark Tape.
We Are Not Saints, as It’s All About You right after, flirt with some invigorating strains of garage rock for their individual designs, the former twisting it into a predatory prowling of the senses and serious ignition of the instincts to rock ‘n’ roll whilst the latter, taking an even richer dose of sixties/seventies garage ferocity, weaves a tonic for body and soul bristling with sonic tendrils, sparkling hooks, and psych rock breeding. The rhythms from both bass and drums are wicked seduction whilst West again shows he is one of the most magnetic and dynamic frontmen/vocalists in rock right now.
Things remain infectiously hot with the enthralling Meet Me on Zen Street, a song veering on the brink of horror punk at times, and again through the dirty scuzz lined Graveyard Valentine. Rock ‘n’ roll needs a healthy dose of filth and attitude, and there is plenty on show in voice and sound in this irresistible proposal, the grouchy deep throated bass leading the way. Punk again rears its welcome head, and not for the first time on Back To Momo, there is a touch of Canadian duo The Black Frame Spectacle to the thrilling stomp.
The album is completed by firstly the niggling temptation of Wined, Dined, & 69’d, the song simply classic bred, glammed up rock ‘n’ roll, and lastly Read Between the Lines, a track which again prowls the listener with dazzling lures and spicy enticements. It does not quite live up to earlier peaks yet as all songs, only leaves a licking of lips and want for more.
Back to Momo is not bulging with sounds that are unfamiliar yet from start to finish it is commandingly fresh with an insatiable spark sure to ignite any day. The single Alive N Well Smack in the Middle of Hell was and still is a mighty way to join the Blacklist Union, whilst the album shows it has much more to thrill and incite with. . After this if the band has not breached major attention then world rock is a fool.
Back To Momo is available now via BLU Records.