Oh my God, where do I even begin? From the Kill ’em All meets Power of the Night album cover to the mercilessly relentless onslaught of primed and ready buzzsaw guitar to the completely OTT vocal spewages of lead throat Neil, Sentenced to Life is one of the few albums I’ve ever heard that can rival the levels of pure electricity created by Slayer or Entombed at full throttle. The fact that the band proudly pays homage to their impressive metal roots only makes me love the album more (check out the Celtic Frost font they use on the Razor to Obliveon EP…aces!).
All this rave and I haven’t even gotten to the music…yet.
To get right to the point, this relentless and most welcome migraine headache of an album never lets up for a second. Feast of the Damned kicks things off in style and you immediately know what you’re in for. Never sacrificing groove when they hit the accelerator, the title track keeps the party going as the impossible power and energy abuses your woofers and tweeters like an unstoppable sledge with nary a second to spare for solos.
In fact, one of the coolest things about Sentenced To Life is the underlying punk/hardcore ethic with the emphasis squarely on the power and delivery of the riff. This works in spades for Black Breath, as all too often a band like this overstates the point with songs that are longer than they need to be either through over-repetition of riffs or long noodling solos. Now I love a good guitar shred as much as anyone, but sometimes it’s just not necessary. In the case of Sentenced To Life, brevity works in the band’s favor as every song is as long as it needs to be, making for an album that is admittedly short but also demands repeated listens because of it. This ain’t music for the faint of heart.
The white-hot mix puts brutal guitar and bass up front with the tight and powerful drums beating the hell out of everything in their path and the aforementioned Neil letting it all out in unrestrained fashion that would make Tom Araya and LG Petrov proud. “Sentenced to life…terrified of living, too scared to die.” Has there ever been a more ridiculously hopeless OTT line in any lyric? So OTT that I really get the sense that I’m laughing with them…certainly not at them.
I dunno…from the unchained electricity of the mix to the brutally spirited performances and a raft of kickin’ tunes, this album is a workout of the highest order. And the brevity of it all doesn’t bother me a bit…I’d rather just have a half hour of excellence than an hour long disc that I have to skip through to find said treasured half hour. This one’s a winner.
Rating: 4 out of 5