On rare occasion the most deranged and inane shouting in the room is also the most brilliant. In the case of Leeds’ Blacklisters (aka BLKLSTRS), it’s within the chaos and lunacy that intelligence lurks, as the band invite us to recognize the self aggrandizing as chuckleheads. With so many touting themselves up to be Extra Serious People, Blacklisters have built a catalog skewering the ultra vein, self-important, and hyper-macho with their own brand of aggressive sarcasm. Clearly, the message has been lost on many, but that’s part of its sordid charm. As society crumbles, Blacklisters are always there to meet the depravity.
The band have been painting broad characterizations of the handsome, the elite, and the ever fancy executive class for over a decade, leaving an unhinged impression with their initial EPs and eventual full length debut, BLKLSTRS. Released in 2012, our introduction to the band was a full on assault on puffed up egos, fame are fortune, and narcissism. Through violent riffs and impeccably dense rhythms, the band carved out a special disdain aimed toward anyone who believes they’re better than anyone else. Praised by a wide array of legendary maniacs including David Yow (The Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid), Andrew Falkous (mclusky, future of the left), and Blake Harrison (Pig Destroyer), the band carved out a unique niche of intricate discordance, monolithic low-end, and tongue-in-cheek humor.
In the years since, the band released two more flawless full lengths, 2015’s Adult and 2020’s Fantastic Man, lambasting both what it means to be “a proper adult” and taking the piss out of toxic masculinity. While the scourge of the subject matter remains easily pointed (and genuinely hilarious) with every effort, the band have continued to push and pull in new directions over the years. Embracing the noise rock and sludge of the 90’s and moving beyond, they’ve shifted expectations with colossal motorik repetition, art-rock explorations, and guttural hardcore dexterity. Blacklisters music is as brutal as it is thoughtful, because sometimes you really need to hammer the message home.
The band - Billy Mason-Wood (vocals), Steve Hodson (bass), Dan Beesley (guitar), and Alistair Stobbart (drums) - create with a rattling instability at its core. The music is caustic and on an ever short fuse, setting seasick riffs against brash and impenetrable rhythms. It’s hard to describe anything Blacklisters do as “tense” as we continuously meet them at the moment of impact, the tension already splattered in all directions. Mason-Wood leads the group with a demented howl, slurred and garbled, shouting as though his mouth is filled with marbles. Channeling the depravity and fury that results from the source material, Mason-Wood is truly one of our generation’s great vocalists, setting aside posturing and “self control” in favor of becoming perfectly unglued.
Leisure Centre, the band’s upcoming EP - due out November 18th via the band (UK) and Exploding In Sound Records (US) - continues to see the humor in our “serious” world. With reflections of the yuppy dream (country clubs to solve all of life’s problems), machismo, tough guys, and the boardroom lot, the band rip through these dark times with their own dark humor, creating something radiant in the process. It’s the light at the brink of enveloping scum. Recorded by George Riley at The Penthouse Recording Studio over a pair of weekends, Leisure Centre is the first in a series of EPs. We can all shout along as we laugh at preposterous business meetings, scheduled relaxation centers, and the sours of general self-seriousness. Utterly heavy and ingeniously weird, Blacklisters remind us all to have a little fun.