Blacklisted – No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me

Blacklisted - No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me

Deathwish isn’t a label I’ve really followed over the years, as in my head I had it pegged as a repository of boring macho metalcore. But while it probably has had such bands on its roster at some point, it has also played host to hardcore luminaries like Cursed, Breather Resist, Modern Life Is War, I Hate You, Boysetsfire and Converge. The moral of the story, I guess, is that I’m kind of a fool.

Anyway, this album cropped up on a couple of best of 2009 lists I read last month so I picked up a copy, and hoooly shit this is some seriously pissed-off hardcore. Pardon the cliche, because I am really serious. The riffs and drums rain down like hammerblows, and their vocalist punctuates every bar with a snarling bullet of vitriol.

Listening to No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me feels like an act of empathetic catharsis. The songs are a varied mix but they all plumb the territory of hardcore punk and rock and roll, typified by those steamroller riffs I mentioned. Lyrically they’re furious, bitter and self-castigating; a truly bleak articulation of a process that sees self-destruction become self-doubt become self-acceptance. They’re spaced out with moody, sombre instrumental pieces that serve to relieve tension and emphasise the emotional heights of the heavy-hitting songs they sit alongside. ‘J.M.N’, the first such interlude, utilises feedback that sounds like roaring wind, symbolising a feeling of violence and isolation.

The first track, ‘Our Apartment is Always Empty’, is a case in point. It’s a song about a relationship collapsing around a core of unfocused anger:

You let me sleep on your couch and your floor, even in your bed window-side
You let me have the corner in your closet, a place where my boxed-up life could reside
In return I showed you how life was like a painting,
One so violent and depressing you just closed your eyes
When you saw me disintegrating you’d stand by and just watch me vaporize
As the world fell in love with me you fell out or so it seemed

The singer is clearly speaking from intensely felt personal experience; his fucked-up life impeding on someone who gave a lot to him, but the darkness and chaos of his life pushed her away. This first song does an incredible job setting the scene for the album thematically, and on top of that it’s probably the most powerful and emotionally tumultuous song on here – fitting both as an opener and as an aspect of the album’s main conceit.

Not that it’s the only worthwhile song on here, far from it. ‘Everything In My Life Is For Sale’ is a self-analytical dissection of feeling like a cog in the music business and how, for his own health, the band’s singer needs to get away from it – but he won’t. A recognition of personal need that will go unmet, essentially. It’s a mid-tempo song, again brutally loud and low, but is over in under two minutes. Later, acoustic ballad (backed by an achingly mournful fiddle and a ghostly whistle) ‘The P.I.G. (The Problem is ‘G’)’ returns to the subject matter of that brutal opener, this time looking back at a failed relationship and mutual feelings of disappointment. ‘Palisade’, by contrast, is a fast-paced rocking cry for help, a vulnerable but powerful acknowledgement of need: “Fix me, I’m in a fragile state / Build me a place to keep me safe / From those who fill their pockets while the others pray“. All of these songs explore ideas of personal need, fulfilment and disappointment, articulating them through this personal story.

Towards the album’s close ‘I Am Extraordinary’ again asserts that fragile sense of self. The singer observes “I am only scared because I myself am scary“. No fucking shit. It’s an acceptance, of sorts, of the darkness that is a fundamental part of him. Musically it’s slow and mournful, but the guitars push an upbeat melody, making something fundamentally bittersweet.

Conceptually, No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me is an insightful and soul-baringly honest record, and musically it demonstrates impressive versatility in matching music to theme. And perhaps most importantly, it is always intense and angry hardcore that feels every bit as important to the listener as it must have done to the band themselves.

Blacklisted MySpace | DeathWish, Inc.

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