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Chemical Breath – Beyond Reality/Brutal Violation Award winner

Chemical Breath
Beyond Reality/Brutal Violation
by Max Elias at 21 April 2019, 9:16 PM

I was surprised when I heard that CHEMICAL BREATH’s new double album was a re-release, because I’d never heard the name before, and musically, this is exactly what I wish more bands sounded like. Turns out that in the 90s CHEMICAL DEATH was a briefly active Belgian tech-thrash/death outfit, sort of akin to later-day Death. You can really tell from the first song ‘Before the Day Awakes’, where the vocalist has kind of a Leprosy-era Chuck voice, and the riffing reminds me of something from the album ‘Human’. At the same time there’s more of a thrash influence at play than there was with Death, which is audible on ‘Mutilation’, with its jumpy pedal tone riffs and invigorating thrash drumming. This ‘album’ is really a re-release of some early demos, which, if the songs themselves haven’t been altered at all, is incredibly impressive. These guys were definitely ahead of the pack in their day and don’t even sound out-of-place or too simplistic or anything in the context of more modern bands in the genre.

Their thrash metal core is evident on ‘The Convicted’, replete with headbanging triplet riffs that anyone would break their neck listening to. The lead work on the track is scant, and very atmospheric, characterized by quick dive-bombs and trills that contribute to the aura of chaos the band is cultivating. ‘Passage to Oblivion’ boasts its own array of addictive riffs, and as it is an instrumental one would hope so. It twists and changes—in a logical rather than superfluous way—so often that no lead work is needed, as is sometimes the case with instrumentals, especially in metal.

That brings us to the second demo’s worth of songs; more of the same to be found here, which is to say more advanced, meticulously-structured tech-thrash that you can tell the band put their souls into, even as far back as over 30 years ago. ‘Sophistication of Dying’ combines the ferocity and spontaneity of Slayer’s drumming with the technique and riffs of Death or Sadus, throwing in some tortured screams as opposed to growls to liven things up. The rolling bass that starts off ‘The Mushroom Effect’ is the only intro to speak of on this collection of fairly short hard-hitting extreme metal; it’s almost a shame as it works so wonderfully in that song. As befits the title, the song ends with a dive bomb into an explosion, a la ‘Fight Fire With Fire’. The album closes with ‘Disapotical Freedom’—I think maybe they meant to title it ‘Despotical Freedom’—a roaring beast of riffs that ends with a barrage of legato licks and of course more dive bombs. Needless to say, I’m glad to have discovered these guys; unfortunately they dropped almost entirely off the map by 1995, but I’m hoping this re-release means new material is in their future. Most of the songs on this demo just end without significant resolution, which is jarring for a second, but the sledgehammer riffing and precision flourishes constant from song to song more than make up for that.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Before the Day Awakes
2. Mutilation
3. Erased From Existence
4. The Convicted
5. Passage Through Oblivion
6. Unnecessary Violence
7. Sophistication of Dying
8. Brutal Violation
9. The Mushroom Effect
10. Disapotical Freedom
René Rolx - Guitar
Gerry Verstreken - Bass
Bob Schillemans - Drums
Chris Sibbald - Guitar
Menno Corbeek - Vocals
Record Label: Vic Records


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