I blame Cursed for all this. Ever since the Canadian HC band dropped their first album back in 2003, a proliferation of like-minded bands have fashioned a similar sound in which their straight-ahead, ripping hardcore is run through with the heavy death n’ roll of Swedish death metal legends Entombed.
Black Breath are one such band although its worth pointing out that rather than taking their cues from the groovy stomp of Entombed’s classic ‘Wolverine Blues’, they draw from the earlier, deathlier works, namely the timeless one-two punch of ‘Clandestine’ and ‘Left Hand Path’.
Opening with ‘Black Sin (Spit on the Cross)’ it was immediately apparent that those present here tonight would be reaching for the Deep Heat in the morning to soothe their aching necks. With bottom-heavy riffage and that classic DM half-speed drum beat (otherwise known as fat-man-jogging-down-a-hallway beat) it was akin to being transported to Stockholm in the early 90s, albeit a parallel version where skinny denim-and-pimple-clad Swedes were replaced by freezing cold brummies in front of a group of Americans arguably too young to have been there first time round.
Framed by intimidating guitar stacks haemorrhaging thick, swampy guitar tones, it was somewhat of a disappointment to not see the tried and tested ‘Boss-heavy-metal-through-Peavey-practise-amp’ setup utilised, given how close to the classic ‘Sunlight Sound’ (from Sunlight studios, where the likes of Grotesque, Dismember and yup — Entombed, all learned their craft) their textures are. However, such gear nerdism was rendered moot by the sheer weight and mass emanating from onstage.
The band ploughed through the entirety of their recent debut album ‘Heavy Breathing’ – the latest in a seeming reinvention this year by doom uber-label Southern Lord who have taken to releasing a lot of crusty hardcore (see Masakari and Nails for further evidence) alongside their usual downtempo acts. Vocalist Nate McAdams led the riotous hardcore-inflected Death Metal party from the front, all whipping hair and ferocious growls whilst his bandmates followed suit, peeling out riff after grotty riff with the likes of ‘Unholy Virgin’ and ‘I Am Beyond’ prompting waves of appreciative banging.
Despite what has been said throughout the review, its not all pure Entombed worship, with ‘Eat the Witch’ demonstrating the odd hint of early black metal and set closer, the Dwarves-referencing ‘Wewhocannotbenamed’, featuring the occasional burst of righteous D-beat within the mix. An unexpected but wholly appropriate cover of Sepultura’s ‘Desperate Cry’ was also aired, further enamouring the Seattle five-piece to the audience, and by the time the show had finished, anyone who hadn’t heard of these dudes previously were sure to have had their name drilled into their cerebrum. Sure, they’ve lifted wholeheartedly from the catalogue of other bands, but with at least a million US bands playing slick melodic death metal in the name of At The Gates, the flattering imitation of Black Breath is a hundred times more refreshing.
Review – Duncan Wilkins
Photos – Kate Fitzgeorge