Black Breath, Burning Love, Enabler, Culo | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Black Breath, Burning Love, Enabler, Culo Recommended Agenda Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Mon., July 9, 9:30 p.m. 2012

I know it wouldn't be terribly helpful to describe Black Breath's sophomore full-length, Sentenced to Life (Southern Lord), by stringing together a bunch of hyperbolic profanity or simply saying in stupefied awe, "Dude. . . ." But the fact is, the album easily outdoes its ruthless predecessor, Heavy Breathing, in tuffness, heaviness, tightness, speediness, double-kickness, flaming lickness, and hatefulness—and that can sometimes be difficult to put into words. These Seattle-by-way-of-Bellingham d-beat disciples gave Sentenced to Life cover art that would fit perfectly in a row of early-90s Entombed merch (it's halfway campy, showing a sledgehammer wielded by a leather-gloved hand cracking a pane of glass), and the album ramps up the band's mix of punk, hardcore, and thrash metal so that the gruff yowl of vocalist Neil McAdams and the unstoppable force of the chugging guitars seem to be battling to decide who can sound more pissed off. Once again Kurt Ballou produced at his GodCity studio, bolstering the backbone of the thick-as-hell mix—which helps keep the intricacies of rippers such as "Forced Into Possession" and "Mother Abyss" sounding sharp despite the songs' frenzied pace. Despite how obvious Black Breath are about their stylistic debt to the likes of Disfear, Entombed, and Motorhead, as well as to the early days of d-beat (this isn't exactly paradigm-shattering music), when they bust out the lines "Life is a prison / Death is the key / No escape" in "Home of the Grave," they're practically daring you to call them cliched—if only to give them one more reason to kick your ass all over the place.

Having already fronted well-respected Canadian hardcore-punk bands such as the Swarm and Cursed, Chris Colohan had a reputation to live up to when he started Burning Love. Initially a side project for Cursed and fellow Toronto hardcore outfit Our Father—at first it was basically Colohan fronting that band instead of his own—Burning Love went full-time once those two groups dissolved, dropping Song for Burning Lovers in 2010 and Rotten Thing to Say (Southern Lord) last month. The new album is full of hooks and flashy rock 'n' roll guitar solos and shines with sweaty glitz and a haze of sleaze—but Colohan's raspy, almost choking vocals keep it rooted in the scrappy hardcore sound he made his name with. Rotten Thing to Say is definitely hardcore punk—it's got the muscle and urgency—but for the most part it'll make you want to stomp your feet, not someone's head. Opening tonight's date of the brilliant-idea Southern Lord package tour is Milwaukee's Enabler, who release their stellar debut with the label, All Hail the Void, on July 17. —Kevin Warwick Black Breath headlines; Burning Love and Enabler open.

Price: $12

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