On the radar: Black Breath

Death metal has never shied away from the grimmer subjects, and Black Breath - phenomenal and forward-thinking as they are - are no exception to that particular rule.

"Our stuff in the past has focussed on religion, blasphemy and the apocalyptic," explains guitarist Eric Wallace. "Neil McAdams, our singer, has taken an interest in serial killers over the years and for this record he'd always be reading some true crime books. We had a box of them floating around the van on tour."

The album borne of this morbid mental investigation is the band's third, Slaves Beyond Death - a collection that will suit fans of masterful metal.

I'm sitting at home reading about riffs, Neil's reading about serial killers. We're both doing our homework!

"Albums are a snapshot in time of our collective experiences and interests," expands Eric. "[Previous album] Sentence For Life was about getting to the point as quickly as we can. This time we tried to expand our songs into a larger experience."

Fortunately it remains a record of remarkable focus and potent playing. Eric channels his Les Paul Custom into classic Boss HM-powered death metal distortion, before a combination of Marshall JCM 800 and Peavey VMT amps (his "secret weapon") give it a unique twist - all best evidenced on album highlight Seed Of Cain.

"That was some other-worldly inspiration coming through," recalls Eric. "I started playing and it was like I was watching my hand through someone else's eyes. I hear about this in interviews, but I never really understood what people meant before - it was such a detachment from what my brain was doing."

Unearthly delights

The album is somewhat unearthly throughout, perhaps unsurprising given it was recorded in Salem, Massachusetts - site of the notious witch trails of 1692.

"We stayed at the Salem Inn," Eric recalls. "There have been numerous documented cases of apparitions there - a cat that roams the halls and a child that appears on the stairs. I didn't see anything, but we all had very strange dreams there, so maybe there's something to it!"

We ain't afraid of no ghost, but we're still not 100 per cent on this whole preoccupation with serial killers thing…

"I don't think any of us are reading this shit to learn the fucking ropes!" laughs Eric. "But while I'm sitting at home reading about riffs, Neil's reading about serial killers. We're both doing our homework!"

  • For fans of: Entombed
  • Hear: Seed Of Cain
Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.