Originally formed in Southern California back in 2013, they are the brainchild of founding members (Also father and son duo) Lonnie and Kyle Silva. With Lonnie on drums and Kyle taking up guitars, they initially started as all bands do, jamming in the garage, making some noise…but this soon turned into an aspiration and an actual project as opposed to a hobby. After a demo or two with some local musicians and some extensive local gigging, they caught the bug; this is what they wanted to do and so, taking this seriously, they had a shuffle in the ranks. Brought in were new vocalist Graham Fletcher and bassist Ray Burke, and so began the journey of writing and recording their proper debut. Scheduled for release this coming March via Eclipse Records, let’s find out why Blacklist 9 are “Mentally Ill, Legally Sane”…
The album opens up with “Azzip” and although no more than an intro piece, it’s absolutely fucking demented…some quiet knocking leading into this, intensifying tinny guitar and a wall of sheer, noise, clutter and distortion. Some of the squeals emanating from these speakers right now leads me to believe I’m PRETTY sure someone is being recorded raping a pig here, but it’s hard to tell really…utterly psychotic. First track proper then, “Stand In Line” actually gives some musicianship which after that opening is frankly fucking welcome! With the deep, bass-heavy riffs and coarse production it takes on an up-tempo, southern groove metal / sludge crossover style…though the solo is clean…a bit like finding a pound coin that’s been dropped in dog shit. I mean it’s a pound coin, you might need it for a trolley like, but you aren’t picking it up. On a serious note, if anything you could liken this to a drunken VIKING SKULL demo with added heaviness.
“Kali Smile” has a drawn-out riff-driven intro that eventually incorporates some up-beat, rhythmic percussion and again it’s all about the groove with these guitar hooks…in ways it can be likened to the likes of MUDVAYNE in places instrumentally, though aesthetically the nu-metal is more of a nuance. The vocals are still brash and aggressive, and are about as appealing as cauliflower ear for the most part, though it has to be said the death growls salvage things in the long run. “Liars” takes a more classic-thrash inspired approach with its pacey delivery and there are hints of SLAYER and PANTERA trickling through here as influences, the solo guitar work is again, a highlight. Early demo track “Madness” makes a reappearance, nothing truly stand out as it slowly chugs itself along, before we finish up on “Legally Sane”; returning to that southern groove metal style, the album’s title track, inspired the trial of mass-shooter James Holmes who murdered 12 people in that dreadful Colorado theatre shooting.
Coming back to my initial point about family bonds and chemistry, it’s easy to see that, musically things ARE working out here; for a debut first and foremost and secondly for a sludge metal inspired musical style, they’re on the right path, Lonnie and Kyle clearly have a vision…the riffs and percussion are solid and the overall guitar work is fine, there’s definitely a market for this, but it’s vocally where these fall down. If it weren’t for the death metal growls Graham would miss the mark completely here, as when he’s not growling he’s grating…there’s no REAL tone to his voice and it all just becomes angry venting after a while. Honestly, they’d be mentally ill to not consider replacing him and really work on that aspect of the bands overall presentation, for it’s those vocals that bring some decent metal down. Blacklist 9 by name but, not as many listens for me to blacklist them…for now at least.