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Lewd Acts - "Black Eye Blues" (CD)

Lewd Acts - "Black Eye Blues" CD cover image

"Black Eye Blues" track listing:

1. Know Where To Go (1:37)
2. Wide Black Eyes (1:28)
3. Nightcrawlers (2:16)
4. You Don't Need Me (:42)
5. I Don't Need You (3:22)
6. Who Knew The West Coast Could Be So Cold (1:24)
7. Penmanship Sailed (5:03)
8. Young Lovers, Old Livers (2:31)
9. Rot Gut Charlie (1:19)
10. My Father Was A Locomotive (2:56)
11. Nowhere To Go (6:03)

Reviewed by on September 28, 2009

"Like a punch to the gut, 'Black Eye Blues' hits the listener where it hurts, especially in a lyrical sense."

Hardcore as a genre has expanded much from its humble beginnings in the 1980s. Back then, when a person heard something from Black Flag or Minor Threat, it was immediately recognizable that hardcore music was blasting out of the speakers. Today, metalcore, crossover thrash, and post-hardcore are just a few of the sub-genres that had their roots in the original sounds of hardcore. All of this makes it difficult to discern between what bands are actual hardcore and what are just a hybrid of different sub-genres. The way the music scene is going, that task is only going to get harder in the near future.

A few bands are still waving the hardcore flag high and proud. California’s Lewd Acts aims their sights towards no-frills hardcore on their latest album, “Black Eye Blues.” There aren’t any mediocre solos or excessive breakdowns to bog down the proceedings. While there are a few slower, more melodic numbers scattered throughout the album, the majority of “Black Eye Blues” is a head-rush of aggression, backed by a loose concept that deals with loneliness and bitter feelings. There are a few too many short intro tracks that stifle the pace, but each one has a purpose in building up to the next moment of hardcore insanity.

“Black Eye Blues” is a grim-sounding album, with no hope for a happy ending on the horizon. The first line of opener “Know Where To Go” makes this apparent; “I was born with soapbox shoes, raised on morals that I chose to lose.” Lyrically, the rest of the album follows suit, with stories of lost love and pent-up rage. Each song conjures up a vivid image in the listener’s head, where shadows and darkness seem to be the only places of solace.

Supporting these stark lyrics is quick, snappy blasts of hardcore punk. The music isn’t complicated, but the band is able to get its message across in an effective manner. Songs like “Rock Gut Charlie” and “Wide Black Eyes” are balls of explosive energy that come and go in less than two breathless minutes. The songs fly by frantically, with the eleven tracks barely hitting the half-hour mark, a nod to the structure of older hardcore albums.

Lewd Acts shows a level of maturity and originality with a couple of sprawling epics. “Penmanship Sailed” takes a mid-paced tempo and works around a grinding pace, with a skillful percussion outro that has a tribal feel to it. Closer “Nowhere To Go” is largely instrumental in its first half, a simplistic guitar melody that slowly builds towards a dynamic second half that ends on a bleak note; “All my lessons unlearned. Searching for meaning in empty words, I have no hope, I have nowhere to go.”

Recorded and engineered by Kurt Ballou of Converge fame, “Black Eye Blues” has a punchy production that highlights each of the band members’ strengths. It isn’t clean in a silky smooth sense, but every instrument is audible, with a needed pinch of grit to avoid sounding like a faux old-school hardcore reject.

Like a punch to the gut, “Black Eye Blues” hits the listener where it hurts, especially in a lyrical sense. The songs have a replay value to them, aided by the short running length. The spoken word “Who Knew The West Coast Could Be So Cold?” is the only real misstep by Lewd Acts, but the follow-up “Penmanship Sailed” more than makes up for this brief error in judgment. The band proves that they can work with speedy numbers and multi-faceted tracks, a trait that makes “Black Eye Blues” a great album and Lewd Acts a band to watch out for over the next few years.

Highs: "Penmanship Sailed" and "Nowhere To Go" are solid epics, speedy hardcore sound, poignant lyrics that effectively drive the music forward.

Lows: A few too many intro tracks, the spoken word “Who Knew The West Coast Could Be So Cold?” is a misstep.

Bottom line: Impactful hardcore with a bleak message and an aggressive sound that has its fair share of melodic tendencies.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)