Monday, April 2, 2012

I The Breather Find Their Truth and Purpose

Just about anyone who has been to college has heard of the dreaded “Freshman 15”, referring to college students gaining 15 pounds their freshman year of school. Well, in music, throughout the years there has been something known as the sophomore slump. That refers to when a band’s second album doesn’t sell as well as their first one does. There have been numerous bands that have fallen prey to this curse of the industry. I have always wondered if it plays with the psyche of a band when they are coming off a successful debut album and start preparing for its follow-up.

This brings us to I The Breather, who is definitely coming off of a successful debut album with These Are My Sins, released in 2010. The album saw the band’s fan base grow by leaps and bounds as it was praised by both critics and listeners alike. The band’s unique blend of chugging riffs and pulsating drums made them stand out amongst a sea of sound-alike’s. You could definitely hear their influences, but they were far from copying them.

Here we are two years later and their new album Truth and Purpose has just been released. Not only has the band not succumbed to the dreaded sophomore slump, they may have just raised the bar with this release and taken their game to a whole new level. The album opens with “False Prophet”, which begins in a calm and somber tone. Then, lead singer Shawn Spann rips open the speakers with a scream of “You’re not a prophet”. The intricate fret work ensues between Chase Kozlowski and Justin Huffman as they begin to lay down the many layers of this song. This is an excellent album opener that really gets the listeners attention.

The brutality really gets going on “The Beginning”. Again, I know this is being redundant, but the guitars are amazing on this one. The band manages to mix in some clean vocals on the chorus and have excellent harmonizing as well. The hook in the chorus on this one is especially addicting and catchy. “Bruised and Broken” is the first single from the album and a great choice at that as it definitely wetted the appetites of the listeners as soon as it was released.

“Mentalist” is another great track and it features a guest vocal performance by Micah Kinard of Oh, Sleeper. This is one of those times when they got the call right. Micah’s vocal delivery compliments Shawn’s really well and vice versa. “The Meaning” is a standout for on so many levels. Shawn’s delivery on this one is really powerful from beginning to end. The lyrics are exceptionally powerful on this track also. I love the ending of the song as Shawn screams and it goes into a haunting piano closing as the song finishes. “Lunar” is an instrumental on which the guys just let loose on a two and a half minute jam session. My only complaint about it is that it’s over way too quick.

I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed by this album. It’s solid from beginning to end and not a single track comes across as being “filler”. I could get all technical with terms describing their guitar playing and how they are part of the djent movement, but I’m not. The truth is, these guys are insanely creative and they lay down some incredible riffs from beginning to end. There are a lot of chugging riffs to be found on the album, but they skip the traditional breakdown that has become somewhat stale because of its vast repetition.

The drums are huge on this album and Morgan’s double kicks are unbelievable. Armand Jasari lays down some consistent nasty bass licks that really help to carry the songs. I’m afraid if go on any further about how amazing the guitar work on this album is that I may slip into geek mode out of admiration for Chase and Justin. Again, blistering, intricate, original and absolutely insane! Shawn also steps it up and sings with more power and conviction that I have ever heard him use before.

Overall, it’s a near perfect album in my opinion. The guys set the bar high with their debut, but not only did they surpass it this time, they totally destroyed it! I am sure this album will make many Best of 2012 lists come year’s end. Call it djent, call it progressive metal, call it melodic metal core, call it what you want. I call it a tasty new addition to a rather stale buffet of metal.

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