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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CD Review: Black Breath - Razor to Oblivion EP

Black Breath - Razor to Oblivion EP
2009 Southern Lord
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Now this is how I like my EPs, particularly from a newcomer to the scene: one that leaves a whipping smack upon the cheek yet coaxes a masochistic longing for more.

From the outskirts of Seattle, Black Breath might be a contender for best arrival in the metal underground this year, despite being together officially since 2005. Though their debut EP Razor to Oblivion has actually been out awhile, Black Breath's recent signing to Southern Lord will equate into the release of their forthcoming first full-length in early 2010.

It also equates into a reissue of Razor to Oblivion, one of the rowdiest punk, thrash, death metal and stoner hybrids today's scenesters are going to find themselves forced to contend with, like it or not.

Fortunately, Razor to Oblivion is an easy sell. It's a fierce and largely fast buzzsaw of hostility. Part Celtic Frost, part Botch, part Broken Bones, part Dr. Know, part Obsessed and part Destruction, Black Breath belches their proverbial pestilence into each boisterous cut. Mid-tempo and meticulous gives way to neck-snapping crazy on "Beneath the Crust," even as Black Breath skids the track into a proper (note I said "proper") breakdown guzzle straight from the Bad Brains.

Even when Black Breath starts "Murder" off sounding like a Sabbath or Saint Vitus doom plodder, they pick the pace up immediately into a steady headbang as vocalist N.T. McAdams barks along to his band's downstroked riff parade with gusto. On the fast-moving title track and "Fatal Error," McAdams sounds like he has shards scraping his crack while drummer Jamie Byrum answers by slapping the finish off of his heads.

Though Black Breath is a five-strong band, they come off at times like a stripped Motorhead three piece. That's not to say Zack Muljat, Elijah Nelson and Eric Wallace are wholly minimalist; they merely work in such finely-timed precision the blinding speed of "Fatal Error" sounds neat and trimmed...well, for the gleefully rambunctious style Black Breath operates with, anyway. Have a go with Muljat and Wallace's tag-team solo on "Murder." Niiiiiice...

Mark your calendars for the early months in the upcoming year. If their full-length contains even half of Razor to Oblivion's brackish fun, Black Breath is to be unquestionably considered an inventive force others had better be ready to stand up to...

Rating: ****


The Mule said...

Looking forward to picking this one up. I think they're from Bellingham, just down the road from me.

In addition to the music, their use of the Celtic Frost "Shield" typeface has me on board immediately.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Yeah, I detected that too. You'll definitely enjoy it. Give them my regards if you see them.

Anonymous said...

Wow a 4 star review everything prior was 3 and 1/2 thought you got stuck

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

obviously you're not a longtime reader, anon, or else you wouldn't be such a nameless fool, but kisses to you anyway...hope your holiday's going great

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