Not having a great singing voice can be a blessing in disguise. If I.C.O.N frontman Mark Sagar crooned like he grew up in a field of honey blossom nestled in the snuggle time valley this record would suck. Instead he sounds like his warm up consists of chugging a shot of whiskey and head butting his own reflection. He’s got a grizzled set of pipes that speaks of seedy bars and biker joints and he gives this music a filthy, hardened edge. There isn’t a clean chorus in sight and all the better for it, auto tune would ruin this.
Opening with a darkly sombre instrumental, it’s not long before the guitars and rhythm section start to thunder. ‘Feed The Negative’ is a fast-drinking brawler, while ‘Grindin’ Wheel’ is essentially Sons Of Anarchy made into a song. And though Sagar doesn’t serenade, he doesn’t exactly growl either. You can make out every single twisted lyric he snarls into the microphone and even although it falls short of a really killer chorus, for the most part ‘The Blacklist’ is an unshaven delight wrapped up in a studded leather jacket. Guitar aficionados will also find lots to enjoy here as despite only having one axeman in the line-up, there’s still a wealth of riffs and solos to enjoy. The fretwork in ‘Welcome To My War’ is especially good, while the title track also has loads of choice power chords stomping their way through.
It’s not anything inventive, but it’s clear these guys were raised on Zakk Wylde, Pantera and Brand New Sin and are quite happy to ignore anything else that has come along since. On the downside though, this stubborn adherence to one template does mean that fatigue sets in before the end. ‘The Blacklist’ has some good songs on it, but it’s lacking a serious spark of genius to set it afire, they’ve written plenty of music that could go toe-to-toe with Damageplan, but they haven’t created a ‘Fucking Hostile’ yet. It’s a minor quibble though because this is a solidly entertaining record and should hopefully get them a few decent support slots or a space on the second stage at Bloodstock. There’s no ballads, no breakdowns and no concessions to anything even remotely mainstream. This is just old-fashioned, meat and potatoes metal that’s happy to rock out at truck stop car parks then bang a waitress with several teeth missing. And never call her again.
There’s no ballads, no breakdowns and no concessions to anything even remotely mainstream. This is just old-fashioned, meat and potatoes metal that’s happy to rock out at truck stop car parks then bang a waitress with several teeth missing. And never call her again.