Monday, May 9, 2011
Black Breath--Heavy Breathing
This was quite a weekend for me. My wife was staying in downtown Austin with her sister and our car, leaving me with just my wits, my bicycle, and a whole lotta alone time for four days. What did I do with this time away from my normal obligations? Did I get all sorts of meaningful work done? Sort out my finances? Take a shower? Rest assured, my friend, that I did none of those things. Instead I stayed up late frantically sending emails to people that I know (kind of) demanding all sorts of exciting things from them with varying degrees of success. This whirlwind of activity was immediately followed by me falling asleep on my couch while watching King of the Hill reruns. And Friday night, in particular, was a churning maelstrom of me getting home from work at 7:30, having one cocktail in anticipation of my last post (this one), and falling asleep on the couch before 9:00. I rule! So, in the spirit of my falling asleep like a baby in a car seat and then blowing off writing this review for an extra two days on top of that, D-beat week concludes with one of my very favorite D-beat albums and my second favorite album from 2010, Black Breath's Heavy Breathing.
Black Breath is one of the bands that I've gotten massively into that seem to have some negative stigma attached to them even before people listen to the music. I remember when I first saw them live with Converge and Coalesce last April I was discussing them with 8===D, who insisted that they were the worst and should be run out of town on a rail. Here is a brief transcript of our conversation:
Me: "I don't know that much about Black Breath. I've heard they're pretty good, though."
8===D: "No way, bro. They stink and have bad haircuts."
Me: "Okay, so you've seen them live already?"
8===D: "No, but I read on an Interbung forum that some of their members are in a pop punk band."*
Allegations of participating in a pop punk band aside (I don't condone or condemn this kind of musical action, mind you), Black Breath fucking ruled. It was a whirlwind of death metal-laced hardcore D-beat, with a brief excursion into faux dad-rock bl00ze that totally rubbed me the wrong way. But I'll tell you about that later. What was immediately evident was that 8===D had misjudged (and continues to misjudge) Black Breath. Do they do some weird dad-rock song with screaming? Yes. Is it confusing and frightening? You'd better believe it. But that song is a grower and not a shower, and the rest of the album is a nonstop tornado of badassery and D-boners more throbbing and sensitive than you're likely to ever see this side of Disfear. In fact, whenever I listen to this album, I have to make sure that I'm sitting down in a safe place because the rush of blood away from my brain invariably causes me to lose consciousness and hit my head on whatever hard piece of furniture or hunk of concrete is most readily available.
And then it's back to the hospital so the doctor can tell me just how much more damaged my brain is. That guy thinks he's so smart just because he's got an undamaged brain and a car to drive to work, but I'll tell you what, he's a dick.
And I'm not going back in the cat-scanning machine again, and I'm not wearing that stupid helmet you gave me either.
Heavy Breathing is awesome, and if you haven't heard it, you're missing out. The lyrics are chanty and angry sounding, with mostly very few lyrics, making it easy to make an ass out of yourself while you ride your bike to work, because if you're like me, you pass the bus station right in front of the junior college that's always packed, and everyone thinks it's so funny that you're yelling "COME! COME! COME! COME EAT THE WITCH!" while you ride past. And maybe it is, but if they were listening to the album that I was, they would realize that what I'm doing isn't stupid and distracting at all, it's more cute and awesome. It's hard not to jam along when you're listening to standout tracks like "Virus" and "I Am Beyond," and it's even more difficult to keep your James Bond-like cool in front of a bunch of girls who only barely graduated high school when you're rocking my personal favorite "Children of the Horn," your damaged brain sending seizure waves through the corpus colossum in an effort to combat how awesome the outside stimulus is, just like when an epileptic watches those inscrutable Japanese animation cartoons with the flashing colors and mopey protagonists.
And the dad-rock bl00ze number that I mentioned above? That's "Unholy Virgin," which is the most divisive piece of music on the album, but which should be listened to a great many times before it's written off. Believe me, at first you'll be flummoxed by the decision to add such an odd song to this album, but once its claws are in you, you'll wonder what you ever did without it.
In other words: "Listen to Black Breath right now!"
Or watch them live here.
*8===D's thoughts and opinions don't represent those of this blog or even necessarily his own, and certainly don't represent fact on any level. Remember that Todd Jones is NOT A COP.