Black Breath - _Heavy Breathing_
(Southern Lord, 2010)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (7.5 out of 10)
After establishing themselves a high gravity brew of retro-thrash infused with crust punk and modern hardcore with 2008's _Razor to Oblivion_ EP, Seattle's Black Breath found themselves gaining in renown and "next big thing" stature while opening for Converge on a Spring tour this year. The retro vibe is intact for the band's first full length, _Heavy Breathing_, but in an unexpected development the nostalgic side of their aesthetic allegiance has shifted to old-school Swedish death metal, specifically early Earache acts like Entombed (whose _Wolverine Blues_ / _To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth_ era gets a pretty thorough retreading here).

To be honest, it's only intermittently successful: "Children of the Horn" is a pretty convincing / catchy Motorhead knock off (that also would have been at home on _Kill Em All_) and "Escape From Death" kicks the velocity up a notch with primitive blast beats and a crunchy guitar sound, but mid-tempo rockers such as "Unholy Virgin" and "Virus" fall flat, the reduced tempo and resultant energy ebb serving only to underscore the hit and miss songwriting.

In a way, it recalls the aforementioned late '90s Entombed, where you dig the vox and guitar sound so much you really, really want to give the band the benefit of the doubt, but repeat listens just don't warrant the apologism. _Heavy Breathing_'s stronger moments elevate the overall product to above average status, but even at just over 40 minutes there is still a fair amount of filler present.


(article published 31/10/2010)

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