Ah, Southern Lord Recordings, can you do any wrong? Well, with releases like that of Black Breath’s latest effort amidst their ranks the answer seems to be a firm “No.” Black Breath was wisely snatched up by Southern Lord in 2009 shortly after self-releasing their Razor To Oblivion EP. Fast forward a little to 2012 and we now have the band’s second full-length in the form of the mountainous crust-caked opus, Sentenced To Life. This one’s a beast, lads.
Sentenced To Life begins with the rager “Feast Of The Damned,” and it’s quite clear from the start that Black Breath mean business. These boys are sure pissed off about something, and they damn sure possess the energy and musical chops to bring it to proper light. What follows that catchy ass song(yeah, catchy) is nine others that unapologetically threaten to kick your ass. Each one snaring you into the filthy black pit the music creates. The classic “buzzsaw tone” made popular by the very band they get their namesake from is a dominant force in Black Breath’s sound. Yes, Entombed. While you’re at it, if you’re reading this article and don’t know what I could possibly be talking about, do yourself a favor and go listen to “Black Breath” by Entombed right quick for a brief history of awesome. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll garner some insight as to where many of today’s elite crust punk and d-beat bands draw inspiration from.
That’s right, Black Breath have without a doubt proven themselves as elites standing atop the growing heap of crust punk bands during this kickass revival(resurgence? return? eh). Whatever you choose to call it, it’s absolutely great. One of the things I love about Sentenced To Life is that the anger and attitude are at the forefront, but without any need for politics. At least not any blatantly obvious ones. Some may argue or question as to whether or not it can be true crust punk because of that thanks to the heavy doses administered by the genres forefathers, but I say that it is better off for it. I much prefer it this way. That holds true for many of the genres other great new offerings as well. The music Black Breath creates on Sentenced To Life is quite angry, chomping its jaws, and gnashing it’s teeth with a viscous snarl coming deep from its bowels.
Black Breath strikes me as a band that doesn’t care what you think, though. They seem perfectly content playing their dirty brand of crust punk with a level of confidence that has them ripping and tearing their own path. Whether it’s balls to the wall tracks like “Mother Abyss” or slow burners like the closer “Obey” they show they don’t just have a handle on this style, they have a death grip. Hell, what am I talking about? Everything this band does is balls to the wall. It doesn’t matter if they’re playing fast or…less fast. Then, there’s “The Flame” that kind of reminds me of old-school Slayer. That’s never a bad thing in the world of metal. There isn’t one dull moment or any “filler” on this album. It’s a bare knuckle beatdown from the moment the first note plays.
If you haven’t checked out Sentenced To Life yet and are even remotely interested in crust punk or hardcore or just downright ferocious music that shows no mercy then quit wasting your time and make this album a part of your life. I promise it won’t leave your playlist/turntable/cd player for quite some time. There’s no better time than the present seeing as they’re about to start tearing it up on the Southern Lord Tour this summer with the likes of Martyrdod, Burning Love, and Enabler. That will not be one to miss.