Breathe Fire

Seventh Rule Recordings
rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Breathe Fire
02. Ol Ironside
03. Daggers in Men's Smiles
04. Bury Them and Keep Silent
05. Brethren We Built This
06. Descent from Babylon
07. Swallow this Swell
08. Snake Charmer
09. Shark Attack
10. We Put the Fuck Back in Memphis

That drummer Joe of Chicago's RAISE THE RED LANTERN (RTRL) took over a house serving as residence for squatters and needle riders by writing a false eviction notice and turning it into band HQ and underground event venue makes sense when one hears the unhinged, post-hardcore-ish sounds of "Breathe Fire". The band's second release (after a self-titled EP on Failed Experiment) is wild and wooly, NEUROSIS-peppered sonic rage for the blue-collar intellectual. It often felt as though BEATEN BACK TO PURE released an early '90s-era hardcore-esque album on Dischord. At other times, I thought of a far more grittier, less overtly artsy AT THE DRIVE IN. Hopefully, you've now entered the cavernous reaches of my headspace with regard to "Breathe Fire".

Anchored by Joe's natural sounding, flailing, and sometimes D-beat drumming style, RTRL does not allow you to understand right away. Melody that is present mainly in the accomplished interplay between the raggedy riffs and arresting leads of guitarists/vocalists Kris and Dylan forces the listener to absorb and appreciate through the otherwise reckless bruise 'n' batter. Stan Wood's visceral mix falls somewhere between Windy City sound guru Sanford Parker and East Coast noise artist Kurt Ballou (CONVERGE).

Eschewing anything even remotely associated with what the average Hot Topic kid describes as "hardcore," RTRL uses the primal foundations of the genre as a launching pad for a creative machinery that is distinctly Chicago in its beer-and-a-shot sensibilities and southern sludge stomp leanings. Don't take my gushing about "Breathe Fire" as praise for an everything-to-everyone experience. It is simply an acknowledgement of the band's mastering of the fine art of soul jarring and mind scarring. Spend some time with "Breathe Fire" before passing final judgment.

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