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CD Review: BLACK BREATH Sentenced to Life

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I've been rooting for Seattle natives Black Breath since receiving their Razor to Oblivion EP in the mail back in 2008. Unfortunately, in my (admittedly minority) opinion the actual songs weren't quite there on Heavy Breathing, their full length debut. The crunchy, Entombed-style tone powering propulsive crust/death metal riffage was compelling enough, but that was the problem… I tended to remember the sound but not the individual songs.

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Color me harsh in assessing that debut album, but we'll come to no such quibbling over the magnificence that is the sophomore "slump", Sentenced to Life. Kurt Ballou is back in the captain's seat, maintaining the saturated belligerence of that meaty Black Breath sound, but this time the band has evolved greatly in terms of songwriting, even if only within their own previously set parameters… there's no left field experimentation here, just a better, tighter version of what they gave us two years ago.

Clocking in at 33 minutes, Sentenced to Life spends every second of that time bludgeoning you into submission: no fat, no filler, just riff after memorable riff of indefatigable kegger crust. Songs like "Of Flesh" and "Endless Corpse" even find the band expanding on their 80's thrash palette, albeit in brief snippets that complement the hardcore influences rather than hip check them aside.

There's really not much more to be said… this album pretty much sells itself. In the famous words of Sir Mix-a-Lot, Seattle ain't bullshittin'.

Sentenced to Life is out now on Southern Lord.

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