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Letlive: The Blackest Beautiful

Post-hardcore heroes progress to dizzy heights

Like many of the finest bands, Letlive caught the imagination of a wider audience through their stunning live performances. What splits the good bands from the great, though, is the legacy of their recorded output, and while 2011’s Fake History was a corker, the test is whether The Blackest Beautiful can live up to those jaw-dropping shows.

The answer arrives within four minutes of opener Banshee (Ghost Fame). It sounds as raw yet delightfully inventive as any punk-rock band has since the genre-defining likes of Refused or At The Drive-In.

Jason Butler’s multi-hued delivery owns the album, veering between whispered Chino Moreno-style melodies to Rollins-level intense screams via Ol’ Dirty Bastard gangster strutting, as on the pumping That Fear Fever. His band are just as dexterous: Virgin Dirt is a fragile, post-rock epic while Empty Elvis manages to condense Glassjaw’s whole career into three mouth-foamingly exciting minutes.

It’s hard to pick out highlights when every track sounds so fresh, joyous and casually rulebook-torching. Letlive have managed to find the space between DC hardcore and Stax funk and plonked themselves right in the middle. This is the kind of record that changes people’s lives. The question now is, can the live shows live up to it?

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.