Black Breath
"Heavy Breathing"

(Southern Lord 2010)Black Breath - Heavy Breathing

Somewhere, sometime, someone once posited that bands should stop ripping off At the Gates and start ripping off Entombed. We're not quite sure who; it seems our crack research team is still stuck in customs, having had quite a passport mixup on a return trip from a fact-finding mission in the small African nation of Djibouti. In any case, maybe we can ask Black Breath where that quote came from, because it sure sounds like someone in the band got their hands on a copy of "Wolverine Blues" between the recording of last year's stupendous "Razor to Oblivion" EP and their debut full-length, "Heavy Breathing."

The forces lording over "Razor to Oblivion" were thrash, D-beat, and hardcore punk. Those elements are all still present, but Swedish death metal is now along for the ride; it might not be in the driver's seat, but it's sure as hell riding shotgun. The Scandinavian flavor announces its presence immediately in the form of the guitar crunch, a tasty tonal syrup that sounds like cinderblocks being fed through a muddy wood chipper. And guitarists Eric Wallace and Zack Muljat wield that deliciously nasty tone with glee, peeling off riff after riff of churning death-mongering fit to grind bones into powder. Throw that on top of Jamie Byrum's D-Beat-by-way-of thrash drumming and N.T. McAdams' rough-and-tumble bark, and what do you have? Gold. Filthy gold.

"Heavy Breathing" proves that Black Breath aren't your garden variety aggro-merchants, as their particular variety of dark, chunky mayhem is marbled with a distinct sense of groove. The band knows how best to make their music stick to the ribs, and that's to keep the toes a-tapping while the heads are a-banging. Only an EP and full-length into their career, and already Black Breath have proven that they're far more than just the sum of their influences.

A-

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