He stumbled from the shadows, blinking, rubbing his eyes. They were red-rimmed with black hammocks slung beneath them like scars of lost time.
Shambling into the light, the hunched figure muttered and twitched as he repeatedly jamming his fingers in his ears. This involuntary rummaging dislodged flakes of dried blood that fell like rusty snowflakes only to catch in his stubble.
The freshly-showered and laundered commuter crowd parted easily around him as if subconsciously aware of the foreign body in its midst, slipping him through with nothing but a few sideways glances to hinder him.
Those close enough to hear the murmuring from his cracked lips could make out the simple mantra, “Black Breath, fucking hell”, repeated again and again.
That battered man, that casualty, that husk, dear reader was me. For weeks and months, I have wandered lonely as a shell-shocked war vet, barely knowing neither my own name nor day of the week.
Black Breath was simply that motherfucking good.
They smashed. They swung. They smashed some more and then laid down grooves so deep, I fell in one and it took me this long to climb out again, dust myself off and rebuild my life.
Enough of that though, the gig.
Well, despite the recent release of a new album, it was weighted towards their debut and stone cold classic Heavy Breathing.
The new material was good, more than good, but the first album, maaaaan, Camden Underworld seriously went batshit bonkers for that.
From the old crust punks to the hardcore meat-heads, from the death metallers to the 18-year-old mummy’s boy with his passport to get served at the bar, we all cranked it up a notch for the older stuff.
And it’s not just because we knew it better. It just rocked harder.
Sentenced to Life is an excellent album but it goes a little too far in its sacrifice of groove. And having witnessed the moshpit response, surely an accurate measure, it’s groove, especially when contrasted masterfully with headlong speed, that makes Black Breath so special.
Anyway, for a band that sounds so evil, they had really good vibes. Black Breath loved the audience and it was mutual. Singer Nate McAdams was constantly touching horns with the crowd, smiling, joking and yet also roaring like a meth-crazed demon.
This is some of the shit they played:
- Feast of the Damned
- Eat the Witch
- Escape from Death
- I am Beyond (an ohmymotherfuckinggodmybowelsjustruptured monstrously heavy version)
- Virus (second half was outrageously groovy)
- Black Sin (Spit on the Cross) – this kicked serious arse.
- Wewhocannotbenamed (the epitome of everything good about the band).
- Children of the Horn
There was obviously some other songs, including Endless Corpse, that my frazzled synapses failed to retain.
The hour flashed by. The pit was mental, legs in the air, naked torsos flying. Not for me thanks. I want to watch the band not watch my back.
Bottom line: I enjoyed Kylesa more but this was defintely more METAL and a very satisfying and mind-melting experience.
So the support:
I fucking love Victims. They are perhaps a one-trick pony but they are very good at introducing subtle variations and melodic flourishes into their Slayer via d-beat madness to keep it fresh.
I especially loved the middle-aged punk with mohawk, Discharge artwork and massive spike-covered jacket who barrelled round the pit for the set. I say loved, I mean “was terrified of”.
B-grade Swedeath. Sorry.
It’s great to see a local London band for once and the singer looks like a man possessed: sick, with rolling eyes screaming out his innards.
Great sludgy, doomy grooves with a stoner metal influence. The dude has a Monster Magnet tattoo, what more do I need to say?
So it’s swinging, hypnotic metal with a 70s rock edge. So what you might say but they really stand out when they gallop and there’s plenty of time for the switch up in their 10 min+ songs.
I’ll definitely keep an eye on what these guys do in the future.
Anyway, I need to go home now. I have been wondering the streets of Camden for two months and my wife has been plastering Missing signs on lamp-posts. Not sure yet what I am going to tell her, beyond “Black Breath, fucking hell”.