Let’s just get this out of the way: For those of you entering this review because you’ve heard that this band shares a member with âOrg faves Shook Ones, be aware that this band sounds nothing like that the Shooks. Instead of a fast Lifetime-influenced punk, Black Breath is metal band that mixes the death metal groove of Entombed with the tone and feel of heavy hardcore.
That said, this band mixes its influences perfectly. It’s both frantic and evil, but has awesome heavy breakdowns that are both enormous and full of energy. This record is super heavy, but still completely fun. It makes me want to get naked, drench myself in blood and ride a motorcycle around my neighborhood while I flash the devil sign at old people. But like, in a good way.
Musically, Black Breath is essentially a riff fest; however, every instrument holds its own in the mix. The guitars are suitably huge (with great natural tone provided by super-producer Kurt Ballou), the drums are deep and powerful, and the vocals are the perfect type for this type of music: thick and full but not too deep or shrill. The vocalist, Neil McAdams, even throws in some death metal grunts and never tries to do anything annoying like sing or whisper.
Another cool thing about this release is the subtle, tongue-in-cheek satanic vibe. The songs have titles like “Unholy Virgin” and “Wewhocannotbenamed” and the opening track, “Black Cross,” features the lyrics “come take this knife and slip it in, the breast of the babe, drink the blood from the cup, reject Christ, spit on the cross.” Actually…I guess I’m wrong because that is not subtle at all. However, considering the hilarious back cover photo of the band dressed in black sitting at a table with evil-looking candles and the lyrics to “Eat the Witch,” which I’m pretty sure is about performing cunnilingus on a witch, I can’t imagine the whole thing is very serious.
This is one hell of a release, nailing perhaps my current favorite sound in heavy music. It’s got 10 great tracks with zero filler. Fans of Entombed, Trap Them or even Metallica should be all over this.
(Southern Lord Records)