Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review: Black Breath - Sentenced To Life

Band: Black Breath
Album: Sentenced To Life
Year: 2012
Genre: Death Metal/Hardcore Punk
Country: USA

In 2010 Black Breath released Heavy Breathing, and album that to this day is still kicking my ass. I heard a track on a best of 2010 podcast by the Requiem Metal Podcast fellas and sought out this band. Once I got my hands on that album it quickly became my favorite release of the year. Well the guys (who happen to be from my neck of the woods) are back with their new release, Sentenced To Life.

What do we get with Sentenced To Life? BB follows the the same template laid down by Heavy Breathing, with a tweak or two that come off as positives. The band still plays a genre bending form of death metal and hardcore punk. Make no mistake, this is NOT deathcore as you know it. This is old school swedish death with a punky/hardcore edge to it and a bit of thrash for good measure.

The guitars have that warm fuzzy chainsaw guitar tone so well known as a staple of the Stockholm bands. This continues to be one of the best imitations of the Sunlight Studios guitar tone I have heard. The production works in synergy to create a very heavy sound that compliments the death metal style the band plays in. Its crunchy, fuzzy, and just plain nasty sounding.

One of the tweaks I mentioned before was an improvement in the drumming. Check out Of Flesh for some sweet blast beats, which I don't believe were very present in the last album. Even still a further improvement would be to add more blast beats. But definitely keep it in moderation, too many bands these days abuse the hell out of blasts. I have no complaints about the drumming overall, the snare has a nice bite to it and the double bass thumps along perfectly. And as for vocals? Neil McAdams kills it again with his hardcore screams. These aren't your wussy hardcore vocals you would expect these days, these are throat shredding screams.

What I love most is the length of the songs. BB seems to have found the perfect general length for songs. Over half of the songs on the album don't make it past the 3 minute mark. These are short bursts of aggression that are headbangable to the max. I mean they are so catchy its almost sickening. Another note would be the placement of a couple songs. Endless Corpse is a much slower song than most on the album and for much of the track it stays in the realm of doom. Following that as almost a brutal contrast is the blistering Mother Abyss that just rockets away with its incredible riffs.

I'm so pleased with Sentenced To Life and Black Breath should give themselves a pat on the back for another job well done. Two incredible albums in a row, no sophomore slump for them. STL has aggression, the catchy factor, the heavy production, and is actually fun to listen to. If this band didn't catch your attention with Heavy Breathing then Sentenced To Life should be front and center for any fans of old school death metal. They have found their niche and continue to perfect their sound.

Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: Feast of the Damned, Home of the Grave, Mother Abyss

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