What a lot of people don’t usually get is that there is a difference between being heavy and being extreme. For example, Black Sabbath are heavy but aren’t really extreme by today’s standards. But a band like, say, Megadeth are more extreme in style but not very heavy. Getting the mix pretty damn near spot on, US hardcore thrashers Black Breath‘s second full-length album, “Sentenced To Life,” isn’t just a skull-rattling slab of noise trying to outdo the last standard in extreme metal, but rather a gauntlet being laid down for others to pick up. Make no mistake, this is a statement.
Coming on like a mutant mix of Entombed‘s low-end scuzziness and the precision and pacing of prime Slayer, opening track ‘Feast of the Damned’ is a death metal blaster that sounds more Sweden than Washington. Following tracks ‘Sentenced to Life’ and ‘Forced into Possession’ carry on the bomblast, barely letting up with the savage, thrashing attack but when ‘Home of the Grave’ hits, the pace changes slightly with the band adding a slight swagger and groove into their sound and showing that the band have more to their trade than just sheer speed.
There are other tracks here that mix up the styles the band incorporate, most notably the brutal ‘Of Flesh’ and the brooding ‘The Flame’, which nods towards the slower side of Slayer‘s output but with singer Neil McAdams barking his hardcore vocals all over the top of it. But fear not, thrash fans, as there is still enough bile and rage spat out at high speed on the remaining tracks to keep the speed-freaks happy.
Anybody who keeps themselves up to date on the latest releases will probably have heard good things about this album already as there has been a bit of a buzz surrounding it’s release, and the truth is it’s all justified. The sum of its parts may not be wholly original but the overall result is an album that is crushingly brutal, expertly played and has songs so well-crafted that you’ll want to come back to it again and again. Overall, an awesome album from a band that are as metal as they come, and an album that’ll be regarded as a benchmark in years to come.