The name may scream Rolling Stones, but Paint It Black is a screaming, tough-as-nails punk band, though its new album eerily explodes into foreign territory while still looking back to the genre’s undiluted ideals. New Lexicon is the third outing from the Philadelphia quartet, fronted by ex-Lifetime/Kid Dynamite mouthpiece Dan Yemin, and its atmospheric apocalyptic hardcore includes disconcerting open spaces and gloomy effects between the roared vocals and bass-heavy instrumental barrages.
Credit that in part to working with Oktopus from the hip-hop duo Dälek, whose own recordings fuse Public Enemy grit with mind-bending My Bloody Valentine fog. Paint It Black took the record to Oktopus after recording the basic tracks with punk legend J. Robbins (ex-Jawbox), and from there its thundering anthems were cast in enough sinister shadows to give any mall-punk boy band nightmares.
It’s a surprisingly natural fit with the bleak tone of Yemin’s lyrics on New Lexicon. This is a sermon for the vermin/A song to draw blood/A finger in the dam tryin’ to hold back the flood, he sums up on "We Will Not," intoning the words so gravely and rhythmically it’s like a half-rapped death ballad. "Gravity Wins" noticeably descends into Dälek-isms at its close, and "White Kids Dying of Hunger" opens with a no-bullshit query: What will it take to fucking wake you up?
Well, since he asked, more records as simultaneously inventive and uncompromising as this one would go a long way toward restoring punk’s reputation for calling people to arms while packing envelope-pushing thrills. Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati sings on the closing "Shell Game Redux" (yep, that’s fifteen songs in a half-hour), completing New Lexicon’s vibe as a dire yet invigorating modern-day classic.