Do you ever wonder if you are missing out on some really good Rock-n-Roll music? In a modern world where it seems like the bloom has come off the rose in the music world, and all other aspects of life, you have to wonder… is this it? Well, no, it’s not, because there are some really cool Rock bands floating around along the fray of mainstream music like Blacklist Union.
A band with a long history that dates back to 2006, the leading force behind Blacklist Union is Tony West; a native New Yorker with an appetite for Rock and a solid sense of how to go about it. That in mind, through the journey of Blacklist Union plenty of known names have passed through. This includes Saliva’s original drummer Paul Crosby, who was once behind the kit, but now actually manages the band. Additionally, prior Blacklist Union records included work with Crazytown’s Anthony Valli, production from Chris Johnson (Evanescence, Josh Todd), as well as guest appearances from Jon E. Love (Love/Hate), and the late Wayne Swinny of Saliva. Furthermore, West also has worked with the late Todd Youth (Agnostic Front; Cro-mags; Murphy’s Law; Danzig).
An impressive resume of talents surrounding Blacklist Union, the last album they released was way back in 2015 with Back to Momo. An album near and dear to the heart of West, it was actually written with the aforementioned Youth. Kind of flying under the radar, it is considered by some one of the best Hard Rock records in some time; so, you should absolutely check it out. Now in 2023 Blacklist Union return with their new album Letters from the Psych Ward.
Released on September 15th through Blu Records, it marks their fifth overall album, and first in eight long years. This latest carnation of the band also features no shortage of talent around West; this includes Rafael Moreira (best known as the lead guitarist on the hit CBS television shows Rock Star: INXS), Nate Morton (drummer for the house band on NBC’s TV show The Voice, but also having performed with many including Miley Cyrus), and the aforementioned Chris Johnson (A multi-instrument musician who has also worked with everyone from Goldfinger and Josh Todd, to Hillary Duff). Having a history with Johnson, both having written and recorded together in the past, this lineup of Blacklist Union is as solid as it gets and so are the songs.
Complete with thirteen new cuts, Letters from the Psych Ward’s release was preceded by three singles that exemplifies the albums’ diversity; the moody “Queen of Everything” and “Dirty Halo,” and extremely catchy title-track. Rooted in straight ahead Rock, the album dips and dives out of emotions that range from slow and grungy tempos, like “Goodbye Mr. Faded Glory,” to more upbeat and almost Marilyn Manson-like rhythms, such as “Keys to The Kingdom.” There are also bluesy cuts that include “Velvet Girl,” an extremely beautiful cover of Aerosmith’s “Mia,” and a very Punk Rock Adam Ant-esque song called “Gates of Steel.”
Overall Letters from the Psych Ward is a Rock album that has something for everyone and keeps you on your toes. For those who might be unfamiliar with Blacklist Union and their sound, if you like Alice in Chains, remember the Post-Grunge band Dust for Life, or just dig a Rock band set on creating moods with their music… then you will really want to check these guys out. Nice to see real Rock-n-Roll is still being made, Cryptic Rock gives Letters from the Psych Ward 4 out of 5 stars.