While it in no way should’ve been, Paint It Black’s Invisible was a surprise to me. I had heard New Lexicon years ago, and while I remember enjoying it, the album failed to make a lasting impression on me. In retrospect, I blame my relative newness to hardcore. From where I sit now, no longer a novice listener, I see Paint It Black as one of the most relevant and interesting bands creating music in the genre. This is in large part due to Invisible.
What struck me most about Paint It Black and their latest EP was how it bridged the widening gap between hardcore and punk. There was a time when the two were synonymous, but for whatever reason, as time passed on, the two diverged. Hardcore now has its following in muscled-out gym-shorts-wearing tough guys, a far cry from the music’s punk roots. Invisible remedies this split with short, fast songs that carry an anger not only righteous but also relevant. Hardcore punk hasn’t been this good in a long time.
“Greetings, Fellow Insomniacs” opens with thundering chords and the alarm clock of a lyric: “No sleep. We are restless pestilence. Broken promises collect like bounced checks. Never penitent.” Yemin’s cadence goes from a staccato bark, taking the lyrics a couple words at a time, to a smoothly spewed run-on on of words that clear a sentence in a breath. It’s this sense of dynamics that allow these already powerful lyrics to stick like glue.
“Little Fists” is a lullaby, screamed from father to infant daughter. Because of its strong emotional, human element it almost feels as if vocalist Dan Yemin is reappropriating hardcore’s abrasive vocalizing by changing its context. Sure, it’s an angry song, it expresses rage at the sexism his daughter will eventually have to fight (“they’ll reduce you, sterilize you, try to cut you down to size too.”), but it’s also a call to fight back and never give up that resonates that much harder because of its grounded subject matter.
Musically, Paint It Black are as tight as ever, unafraid of melodizing their hardcore punk with guitar riffs and woah-ohs. It’s the title track and it’s triumphant guitar melody that gives the album one of its most transcendent moments. As Yemin screams out an apocalyptically toned verse, it’s this backing melody that transforms it into a battle cry for the here and now.
Invisible is an EP that feels every bit as complete and important as any full-length. There’s only six songs here, and every one of them is a homerun. Flawlessly combining hardcore rage and the social consciousness of punk, Paint It Black have created a powerful release that works as hard musically as it does lyrically. Invisible is perfect.