You’d think a global pandemic and the shutdown of the touring entertainment industry could bring almost any independent musician to his knees. Not B L A C K I E. When disease rules our bodies and ruin rules our thoughts, that’s when Mr. All Caps With Spaces picks up his saxophone.

For more than a decade now, the Houston-based sonic force of nature has blended hip-hop, hardcore punk, personal protest chants and teeth-rattling noise to create works of pure defiance — defiance of labels, defiance of compromise, defiance of music at times. His latest, Face the Darkness, is a characteristically chilling and confrontational piece of work that slips seamlessly into a year marked largely by instinctive human flailing.

It’s a thunderous collection of music built to smash down all defenses and excuses. Every word is shouted, often hoarsely, with the force of all emotion exiting the artist’s body. “I’M AGAINST EVERYTHING,” he hollers (always in all caps) on the album’s first track, “While They Try To Kill Each Other.” “I LOOK AT THEM / I DON’T FEEL ANYTHING / I’M DETACHED AGAIN.” Can you relate?

Even by 2020 standards, this is not a record for the well-adjusted. These songs are so strange, so repellant, that it’s easy to be mystified by the reasons why someone would make this music — or listen to it. But B L A C K I E doesn’t care if you understand why these sounds come out of him. He only insists you face them. 

Face the Darkness