Blacklist 9 – Mentally Ill, Legally Sane

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/label: Eclipse Records
Released: 2019
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Graham Fletcher – Vocals
Kyle Silva – Guitar
Lonnie Silva – Drums
Ray Burke – Bass


1. Azzip
2. Stand In Line
3. Kali Smile
4. Down
5. Madness
6. Liars
7. Mental Hostage
8. Legally Sane
9. Madness (Radio Edit)
10. Stand In Line (Radio Edit)


You don’t see many father-son duos in music do you? Plenty of siblings, but never a man and boy rocking it out together (and not with a crib or chair, at that). Yet that’s what we have here in BLACKLIST 9. Messrs Silva and Silva demonstrate that it is, indeed, possible to go one further than the whole faux “brother” relationship many bands gush about in a way few others before will have: by producing thrashing groove metal for the masses. Enter “Mentally Ill, Legally Sane”.

The equal-parts mix of groove and thrash that BLACKLIST 9 peddle isn’t anything particularly new (not since the 1980s at best), but there’s just something lovely and refreshing about “Mentally Ill, Legally Sane”. The riffs bite with particularly angular teeth, whilst the drums are, impressively, forthright with their sonic punch. Vocalist Graham Fletcher also comes across as a rather cross gentleman – it’s another plus to the album that his snarl carries as much menace as the words he’s spitting and frothing from the mouth with. When he’s roaring “Cross me once, I’ll let it slide/Cross me twice, I’ll spit in your eye/Cross me thrice, you’re gonna die” during “Kali Smile”, you can’t help but believe the chap. Not to mention steer clear.

It’s during the half-time stomp of “Madness” that the big boy riffs come to the fore in a delightfully simple fashion. The repetitive utterance of the song’s title during the chorus is so simple, with such chunky riffing, that it almost makes you want to scream along wherever you are. The same goes for the grind of closer “Legally Sane” – the neck muscles strain to move in a to-and-fro motion while the chorus grates down the ears. It’s a compelling, visceral record that begs for a live setting and you can bet your arse that BLACKLIST 9 would be more than obliging.

Aside from the songs themselves, “Mentally Ill, Legally Sane” dispenses with the slick production of modern times and plumps for a more rough-and-ready sound that rather sounds alive. It can be such a drag listening to the same stuff all the time with the same polished production, so something a little more DIY is welcome. Not to the point of incomprehensibility, mind, before any of you regular readers start furiously typing your correspondence that will be duly ignored. Just to the point it starts to sound like a bloody band playing. On that note, it’s a shame that the beers-and-brute throwdown feels somewhat brief at under half-an-hour, though this has been duly padded with two radio edits (maybe because our fragile earsies can’t handle the meanness – bless…) Hooray for more (of the same).

At a recent concert, a discussion was had wherein it was agreed that a band that looks as if they are enjoying their work makes for a better show. The same can be applied to an album. BLACKLIST 9 sound like they’re having a blast on “Mentally Ill, Legally Sane”, and it makes for a far more enjoyable listen than something with razor-focus and hyper-clean production. It’s nothing new, and there’s no doubt better examples of this genre out there, but it’s a great body of work to get your groove on to, scream your balls off and get a pit going (though save it for a venue and not on your commute. Or don’t. Your choice). A doctor’s note on your mental well-being is not required here.




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