The Black Maria – A Shared History of Tragedy

The Black Maria
A Shared History of Tragedy

The knock on indie punk and hardcore pioneer label Victory Records is that the current roster is weak. The Black Maria’s A Shared History of Tragedy won’t change that. This band doesn’t just play radio-ready hard rock; they have obliterated any urge they had to sound unique. So if you don’t see these guys on MTV2 soon, someone is going to get fired for wasting a lot of money – or for not wasting enough.

Cynical punk and hardcore music fans still clinging to the indie ideals of the late 1980’s and 90’s will not like A Shared History of Tragedy. To them this music is the latest sign of the independent music apocalypse, with each over-produced, punched-up kick of the bass drum driving a nail deeper in the indie coffin.

All you’re getting with The Black Maria’s new album is high production value – high enough to turn a run of the mill hard rock band into potential radio stars briefly adored by a small throng of pissed-off suburban junior high kids. If you’re one of those kids, or if you have been wondering what Linkin Park has been up to, you will probably like A Shared History of Tragedy.

But if you’re a music snob, then don’t bother. Each song on this album tries and fails to be an epic. It is an album full of wanna-be November Rain’s. Under different circumstances that could be a noble effort. But instead, The Black Maria just sound like they tried everything in hopes of gaining broad appeal and the cash that follows. Verse parts merely serve to contrast money shot choruses. In softer moments, guitars give way to piano. Vocal harmonies back up the fake yearning lead. Breakdowns and screams come on cue. Throw in some orchestral shit for the chicks and sensitive boys. And don’t forget the expensive packaging, complete with the band members’ sensitive but serious faces Photoshop-ed in against some heavy backscapes.

I am oversimplifying but this album is too predictable and generic to worry about it.