A hyper-speed chug of tremelo-picked guitar, a vicious, guttural growl, and Heavy Breathing, the debut full-length from Seattle death ‘n’ roll outfit Black Breath is off! Embracing the sounds of D-beat, Swedish death metal, hardcore punk and the old-school heavy metal sounds of Motörhead, Black Breath finds little common ground with many of the more drone-heavy acts on Southern Lord, instead offering an intense, yet highly melodic crust hybrid that wastes no time getting to the white-hot, blistering point. Every song moves at maximum speed and at optimum intensity, adding up to what amounts to one of the most simultaneously accessible and ass-kicking metal records of the past year.
Black Breath straps the listener in quickly and early with the album’s first, head-spinning track, “Black Sin (Spit on the Cross).” Guitars blaze and churn beneath vocalist Neil McAdams’ blood-curdling growls. Though they slow the tempo briefly at the eerie bridge during the two-minute mark, mostly likely to allow some serious moshing, they merely dust off and re-launch with all pistons firing just one minute later. The band jackhammers through Discharge-style d-beat on “Eat the Witch,” unleash a thrash onslaught a la Reign In Blood-era Slayer on “Escape from Death,” slow to a brutal churn on “I Am Beyond” and summon Lemmy Kilmeister’s outlaw spirit on “Virus.”
Straightforward, menacing, loud, fast and wicked, Black Breath’s Heavy Breathing checks all of the important boxes on the heavy metal checklist. But most importantly, it’s an absolute blast. Depending upon the artist’s intent, metal can be either the most fun or most defeating of all genres. Thank goodness Black Breath are far more interested in the former.
Discharge – Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing
Slayer – Reign In Blood
Motörhead – Ace of Spades
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.