Maryland metalcore outfit I the Breather
has come quite a long way. They formed in 2009 and released a self-titled EP, which subsequently led to them being signed to the famed Sumerian Records (Born Of Osiris
, After The Burial
). Afterwards, their debut full-length "These Are My Sins," and a couple years later, their sophomore effort entitled "Truth and Purpose" won a lot of fans over. Now that they've come this far in their career, the band has released their third full-length album in the summer of 2014 entitled "Life Reaper
Like in their previous works, I the Breather
puts a lot of focus in placing as much energy and vigor into this album as possible; for the most part, it works pretty smoothly. A very good chunk of this ferocity comes from the musicianship itself, particularly the screamed vocals. Shawn Spann does a great job of projecting a lot of raw, angry energy through his roars and high-pitches. On the other hand, the clean singing is nothing that special, but they sound fine nonetheless and have a lot of life to them. The same can be said for the drums and guitars respectively; The drums have some very good speed and complexity at times, and meanwhile, although the guitars mostly consist of the melodies and chugs you'd expect in your average modern metalcore album, they still sound decent and do somehow have a lot of energy in them as well.
The instrumentation isn't the only thing that paints "Life Reaper
" with such vigor, though; credit should also be given to the production. After doing some research, I found on AllMusic that this record had three members of Pennsylvania metalcore band Century
working on the album's production and mixing: Ricky Armellino (Who also did guest vocals on "Swine:Cult"), Carson
Slovak, and Grant McFarland. Even I the Breather
itself is listed in the producer credits!* Whatever the case, they all did a very good job of giving this record a crisp and polished sound to up the music's boldness without compromising its atmosphere.
This album's energy is also well-shown through the lyrics. They commonly dwell on themes of empowerment, desperation, sin, vengeance, and others; this large array of different topics already makes room for plenty of variety in the album, so the lyrics never become repetitive or stale and are quite interesting to read. On top of that, the lyrics themselves have a lot of emotion to them without being too preachy or cliched, creating a nice balance.The fact that the vocalists put so much energy into singing their lyrics ups what power they have even further. Out
of all the tracks, however, the song with the best lyrics would probably have to be "Shape:Shifter," showing a first-person perspective struggle involving forgiveness and redemption.
With all that said, however, this album sadly isn't without a couple shortcomings. Firstly, while a good number of the songs do really shine through in terms of their energy and dynamic, a few other tracks don't have the same luxury. For an example, "Self:Restore" sort of stays the same throughout its running time, and it winds up to sounding a bit dull and static. "Life Reaper
" is an album that is clearly meant to be energizing and bold, but that edge starts to weather out when some of the songs are too standstill to be that exciting or engaging.
The other problem with this record is that it doesn't do that much to step outside of its genre comfort zone. It's solidly written and performed overall, but let me put it to you this way: If you are not a fan of the metalcore genre in the slightest, this album probably won't change your mind. Hardcore fans of aforementioned genre will very likely enjoy "Life Reaper
" for its undeniable amount of vigor and memorable hooks, but outside of that, it's nothing very new or that distinctive in comparison to other metalcore albums. Aside from the vocal style, which is quite unique, there isn't that much for the record to stand out more than it could have.
Luckily, though, there are a couple major standouts that bring out the best of what this album has to offer: The second track "Soul:Seek" and then the sixth track "Swine:Cult." "Soul:Seek," while sounding highly energized and fierce throughout its time with its speed and melodies, truly peaks during the last third; the song has one of the most empowering build-ups to a breakdown I have heard in a long time. The aggressive musicianship and the resonant production work towards a destructive climax, and it does not disappoint. As for "Swine:Cult," the unrelenting speed of the song as a whole makes for a very invigorating listen.
As a stand-alone album, "Life Reaper
" is a solid release, and as a follow-up to "Truth and Purpose," it's a nice step forward. Despite
the occasional lack of dynamic and the album as a whole not being very unique, the musicianship, production, lyrics, and strong amount of energy combined are more than enough to carry the album over the average mark. Listeners looking for a melodic and energetic fix will probably enjoy it, even though anyone indifferent to the metalcore genre might end up brushing it off. It has its pros and cons, but it ultimately balances out into a good metalcore effort that is worth a recommendation.
Originally posted on: http://metaljerky.blogspot.com/