Paint it Black - New Lexicon
Jade Tree / Rivalry Records
New Lexicon is Paint it Black's third full length, and the first great record of 2008. Early last year, they played a secret show at Disgraceland and played a set consisting of only new songs, which showcased a more melodic, yet somehow more brutal side of Paint it Black. Over the next few months, a few more songs were worked into their live set, and "Past Tense, Future Perfect" was released by Jade Tree online. This is an album that a lot of people have had high expectations for, especially considering some of the advance hype on it, and it definitely meets all of them.
A large part of what makes this album so special is the production. All live instrumentation and vocals were done by J. Robbins, so you know they sound great. The bass tone is especially outrageous. Dan had mentioned that they were going for a very Bad Brains feel with a heavy as hell bass tone, and this is definitely achieved. After J. Robbins did the groundwork tracking, Oktopus from Dalek stepped in to add his touch to the record. Because of this, the record is full of ambient effects, spacey interludes, feedback overlays and an overall chaotic/heavy feel.
Aside from the production, the songs are fantastic as well. Paint it Black has definitely hit their stride both musically and lyrically. Yemin's voice has never sounded better - angry and agressive. Lyrically, he gives a nod to the hip hop that he often talks about, with an abundance of well rhymed and clever lines. This isn't too say that he can't be straight to the point ("And that's as honest as I know how to be"), and "chronic defect in my head, I've got a chronic fuckin defect in my head" could be "Out of Step" for the 2000s. There are a great number of allusions to divinity, God, and what seems to be a pretty big struggle for Dan these days. The lyrical tone is definitely bleak, but with a sense of hope that keeps it from getting depressing.
I've already mentioned the bass tone, but this album has the best basslines Andy has played yet (see "Four Deadly Venoms"). Fast and aggressive, but with definite moments of melody that add a ton to the overall feel of the songs. Josh has some great, laid back spacey guitar parts that really give a new layer of atmosphere to the songs (end of "The Ledge" and intro to "We Will Not"). Jared makes you even forget that Wagz used to play drums in this band. To end the record, similarly to Paradise, there is a great sing along ending with "whoa-oh-ohs" coming from Jeff of Naked Raygun. Killer!
It was pretty ballsy of Paint it Black to give out 500 copies of this first weekend of the year, but you have to their admire their "Well, here it is: the best hardcore record of 2008" attitude. Not to mention just giving it away for free as a way to avoid the "commercialization of hardcore." Kudos.