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Ether Breather – Death Dream

Ether Breather
Death Dream
by Mark Machlay at 16 March 2022, 3:20 PM

The band ETHER BREATHER survived for a very short time in the late 80s to early 90s but seemed to burn hard against the hair metal of the day with their own style of speed/power metal. The band was conceived in late 1987, in Jersey City, New Jersey with guitarist Josh Ribakove trying out for SNEAK ATTACK as bassist, landing the gig, and ultimately, never playing a show because their former bassist returned soon after Ribakove joined. Though, before leaving, he struck up a friendship with drummer Mark Mari who liked a few of Ribakove’s own songs and recorded their first demo “Death Dream” – the only one recorded in a professional studio - with singer Lazlo Grimms joining just in time. They named themselves ETHER BREATHER after a 1939 sci-fi story by Theodore Sturgeon, going on to use science fiction themes in much of their lyrics. They managed to pull guitarist Bruce Gatewood and vocalist Mac from SNEAK ATTACK and bassist Jason Martin would join as well to record another demo in 1989.

Unfortunately, this would be the beginning of the end for the band. Martin and Mari, would leave for other commitments, there would be multiple member changes and small reformation in 1990, but by 1991, the band was done. Not a lot survives from the band but a small tracklist of demos was cobbled together into a collection released through Arkeyn Steel Records last October of 2021. The first five tracks represent the tail end of the band’s career, the 5-track demo recorded in Bayonne, New Jersey under a bingo hall acting as a rehearsal space with a mobile rig provided by Dave Kurtz. The next three tracks are the only fully professionally recorded tracks, the 1987 demo “Death Dream” featuring the instrumental “The Breather”, recorded at Caliope Studio in New York City with mixing by Susan Fisher. The last are probably the roughest recordings and thankfully the final tracks with the first – “Course of the Sun” - being a demo recorded in Ribakove’s living room on a cheap 4-track cassette recorder in 1985 and a recording of the band’s song “War Torn” by INTENSIVE CARE which was repurposed by the band PUNCH DRUNK MONKEYS and appears as the song “Earthquake” on their 1996 album “Cruel and Unusual”.

What you’ll get with this special release of lost ETHER BREATHER material is a nice mix of METAL CHURCH and early SAVATAGE on the thrashier earlier recordings such as “War Torn” and especially on the over-the-top vocal delivery from Lazlo Grimms on the title track of their early demo “Death Dream”. But the real gems of this package come in the maturity of the band that is present in the later demo from 1989 which are, smartly, positioned as the first 5 tracks of this compilation. On “Pain (Can Be a Rock)” you can hear doom metal influences creeping in while “A Long Way Down” could act as a short epic of sorts, flirting with progressive metal tendencies. In fact, that demo has been hailed as one of the top releases of the New Jersey Metal underground of the late 80s. Unfortunately, despite a worthy remastering done by Kostas Scandalis at Infinity Studios, the age can be seen on much of the recording. The last two tracks, while displaying a high degree of raw talent, are quite terrible on the ears, and while I can enjoy much of the other tracks for their ingenuity and energy, its not a compilation to which I will be returning.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 4
Production: 3

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. 2000 A.D.
2. Pain (Can Be a Rock)
3. Third Sun Rise
4. A Long Way Down
5. Dinosaurs Walk Again (Pleasant Dreams)
6. The Breather (Instrumental)
7. Death Dream
8. War Torn
9. Course of the Sun
10. War Torn ‘85
Lineup:
Mac – Vocals
Bruce Gatewood – Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Josh Ribakove – Lead and Rhythm Guitar, Bass & Vocals
Jason Martin – Bass
Mark Mari – Drums
Lazlo Grimms – Vocals
Jeff Schalles – Drums
Windston Wisehart - Bass
Record Label: Arkeyn Steel Records
     


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