BLACK BREATH: Sentenced to Life: CD/LP

Do you like Slayer’s Reign in Blood? Do you like Entombed? What about Suicidal Tendencies? Hardcore thrash? Fast punk? The first Black Breath full-length? If you like any of these, you’ll likely enjoy Black Breath’s latest album, Sentenced to Life. This Seattle five-piece put out a great debut LP and their latest release seems like a sensible follow up. The opening tracks are sharp and brutal with some great riffs and catchy choruses (in that metal way). Lyrics dealing with blasphemy and death (“life is a prison / death is the key” and “sentenced to life / terrified of living / too scared to die”) give the music a sinister presence but do so without devolving into being juvenile. The fierceness of the music and the hardcore punk vocals keep things from going that route. Ten tracks clocking in at around thirty-three minutes is a good length for Black Breath, since the second half of the album doesn’t seem to be quite as memorable as the first half, leading to a feeling of things starting to drag. And that’s the only drawback of Sentenced to Life—the lack of consistency throughout. The first half is amazing while the second half could use a bit more muscle and hooks. While not as good as their debut, Heavy Breathing, fans of any of the bands or styles mentioned at the beginning of this review really should check out Sentenced to Life.

 –kurt (Southern Lord)