Black Breath – Slaves Beyond Death (2015)

Author: Goldensundown

Band: Black Breath

Album: Slaves Beyond Death

Label: Southern Lord Recordings

Black Breath is one of those bands that found a niche, carved their way into that niche and produced amazing material within it. For Black Breath this niche was HM2 heavy Swedeath tied with a combination of hardcore punk, crust punk and thrash metal. While the idea of chucking any of those three with death metal isn’t new, chucking all of them in together gave Black Breath a somewhat unique sound and when combined with their amazing song writing, the band put out some phenomenal releases; Sentenced to Life, their 2010 sophomore release, is easily one of my favourite albums from recent years, with each track a pummelling and dark affair. So when new tracks dropped before this album showing off a move towards a more straight HM2 death metal sound, there was anticipation to see how Black Breath would hold up with this transition. Continue reading

Black Breath – Sentenced To Life (2012)

Not content with sticking to shoving crust punk in with Entombed styled HM2 guitar worship, as seemed to be the trend with a lot of the bands in the punkier end of the death metal revival spectrum; Black Breath have brewed a sweltering pot of the above mentioned crust, ‘Entombed-core’ with hefty elements of hardcore and thrash metal. Having retained this niche sound on their 2008 EP, their debut full length (Heavy Breathing 2010) and this sophomore effort, they’ve essentially hammered out their craft to as close as perfection as humanly possible.

The HM2 ridden guitars have the well known chainsaw tone and are extremely visceral as they play out the well crafted death metal riffs, along with some thrashier sections and tremolo picking; Endless Corpse a prime example of this latter point. The drums evoke crust, d-beat, thrash and death metal drumming styles effectively and the vocalist (Neil) belts out harsh hardcore styled vocals that suit the crust and death elements of Black Breath to a T. As for the song writing, its dynamic; while having mid to fast paced, razor sharp songs, they blend slower passages which grip you and hammer you down before slamming back into full gear, again look to Endless Corpse (probably the most dynamic song on the album) for how they achieve this.

The mid-paced songs (Home of the Grave, The Flame, and Obey) all are extremely crushing to make up for their sheer lack of intensity that the faster paced songs contain. Not to mention that the songs are catchy, I’ve found myself singing (well as close to singing as one gets for this style) lyrics from Home of the Grave and the like, which speaks volumes of the song-crafting ability that this bunch have. The production is off the wall, there’s no issues in determining the crunching bass from the guitars, nor when everything kicks into gear do the drums override the vocalist, etc and it retains a crusty quality that helps keep the album covered in the right aesthetic; no one wants to hear pristine clean production on a crust/death metal album, hell, the word crust alone should imply that.

The only flaw here is less an issue with the band’s ability to perform, write or anything but more so that combining death metal and crust punk is nothing new or original and has been done many, many times in this revival movement; the redeeming qualities being the extra genre additions and the song-crafting and intensity. Pick up if you dig your death metal sounding like it was made by the corpses of crust punks who were raised by members of Entombed and crossover bands.