I've a bone to pick with Southern Lord. They're a label that, intentionally or not, is pumping out some of the most mediocre Metal the scene has witnessed in some time. Most bands on the label fall into one of two categories. 1) Something involving the prefix "post", or 2) "Retro".
BLACK BREATH definitely falls into category number 2. With a guitar tone ripped straight out of ENTOMBED's "Clandestine", their name taken from a REPULSION song, and employing the classic DISCHARGE D-beat on several instances throughout this release, the whole package screams "retro".
The problem I have with BLACK BREATH is the problem I have with ALL "retro" bands, so let it be known I am not singling BLACK BREATH out. This problem is simple; I like the idea of returning to a particular style of music, especially when the style in question is of a superb quality (1980s Speed/Thrash). However, in 99% of the cases, bands today will not be able to capture the spirit, the essence of what made that music so special. It is through no fault of their own, as that music belongs to a particular time period, and it simply does not translate well into the modern era, what with crystal clear production and big budgets.
BLACK BREATH tries to circumvent this, but fall into the same trap most "retro" minded bands do. Their intentions seem honest, I don't detect any sort of hipster-ish qualities about this release (stuff like THE SWORD and TRIVIUM). The problem is that these songs just are not compelling. They simply go in and out, and my life is no different from having heard this. I may just as well have not heard this at all.
(Online March 12, 2010)