Thursday, July 15, 2010

Breathless - Breathless (1985)

By all the Primordial gods of the underverse, do I spy a pair of angry dinosaurs rumbling on the cover of this obscure Belgian record, in the foreground of incendiary comet-fall that will end the existence of all their kind and more? That is at the same time both the lamest and greatest thing I've ever borne witness to, and naturally it causes any expectation of the music to be quite high, or quite low. But damn the Belgians Breathless, because they've got a little old metal record here that neither sucks not tears the walls down. This was another of those bands to dress in tight cougar pants, or red pants with leather jackets, shades, mullets, and you fucking name it. The semi glam consciousness reminds me of their countrymen Crossfire or the excellent Ostrogoth, but it really does not translate into their sound whatsoever.

Essentially, Breathless perform rugged speed metal with a singer, Pascal Remans, who likes to use his voice as a shrill weapon of warfare, sort of like a Lizzy Borden but not as silk-like in his execution, and balancing the higher range with some pretty blunt, melodic vocals that crash into the dirty, bluesy guitar tone. Half of the songs here are quite good, and then the other half rather quick to forsake on the road to nostalgic bliss, but I don't hold any real negative impression of the record, regardless of the occasional, annoying vocal line that seems often uncalled for. The riffs are nothing that special, though there's a nice balance of six and four strings here, and a vibrant tone to the leads that definitely gets you in the mood for music of this period.

I actually think this band works best when its strutting itself at a mid pace, like the barroom grit of "Hells Fever". The leads are great, and it picks up to some solid speed metal, while Remans howls over it like one part goblin set ablaze, and one part mournful ghost creeping about some ruins. "Bring Back Home" is a raging, Judas Priest derivative with insane shrieking vocals that will have you laughing in between horn throwing, but 'with the band' and not against them. I also like the traditional use of the familiar classic guitar line in the band's namesake "Breathless" and the questionably sexy "Devil's Speed on Her Body", with some doom-like bridge riffs above which Remans screams like a spiritual precursor to King Diamond's solo records. There is one other solid speed metal track in "On the Wings of the Dragon".

The band really only comes unhinged on the weak ballad "The Night Crusader", though the lead within is acceptable, but in general, their music does little more than sate the ears temporarily, provoking nothing truly memorable over the course of 34 minutes. Unless you truly endear yourself to Remans Halford-on-crack cries, you may lose interest only after half the record, which would be unfortunate since several of its better tracks arrive late. Breathless might have fared pretty well on the mid-80s Metal Blade or Roadrunner rosters, but they were instead confined to Gigametal/Troglodyte. Oh, who am I kidding, anyone who is on a record label called Troglodyte is pretty fucking awesome without even reaping a few quarters.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]

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