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Firebreather - Under a Blood Moon

Firebreather
Under a Blood Moon
by Gary Hernandez at 26 September 2019, 4:50 AM

We have all had the experience of trying to explain the depth of metal to non-metalheads. It’s like trying to explain the concept of a multiverse to a piece of parchment. I felt like that piece of parchment when I started to explore Doom Metal. That’s my disclaimer to all the Doom enthusiasts out there as I try to describe FIREBREATHER’s sophomore album, “Under a Blood Moon.”

FIREBREATHER is a Doom Metal trio hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden. Now I’m not sure if that makes them part of the Swedish lineage of Doom Metal, but that’s where their bio says they’re from. While “Under a Blood Moon” only comprises six tracks, it weighs in at a hefty 49 minutes. If you think you’re going to give this album a quick listen as you get on about the day, think again. This album requires a certain degree of saturation, so grab your headphones, your favorite beverage, and prepare to immerse yourself in some a dark, sludgy soundscape.

Let’s start with the basics: FIREBREATHER is thick, harmonic, and raw. There is down-tuned—you know, the type that risks the integrity of your sub-woofers and rattles your neighbor’s best china—and there is way down-tuned that wakes Godzilla and threatens nuclear reactors. This album is the latter. Kyle Pitcher (bass) and Axel Wittbeck (drums) lay in a slow-tempo attack that is simply monstrous, and Mattias Noojd’s gravely but natural vocals seem organically fused to his colossal riffage.

As with most Doom Metal, a lot of the compositions on this album are monolithic, but there are a few outliers. The prime example is “The Siren” that builds from a slow bluesy intro (which I swear features guitar work that is so fuzzy I thought it was a warped out keyboard) and steadily builds to a triumphant march of chords, percussive doom, and distortion. And then there is “We Bleed” which, true to its title, bleeds out with feedback. It also features some awesome drumming that keeps threatening to breakout but somehow stays tethered to the mountainous riffs . . . until about the 4:15 mark. That’s when Wittbeck (new drummer, btw) breaks the cage and just runs.

Personal favorites are “Dancing Flames,” “Our Souls they Burn” and “Firebreather” as well as the aforementioned tracks. I wouldn’t say there are any regrets on the album. “Closed Gates” feels a bit a factory issued in that it doesn’t have a much that distinguishes it — just a solid fortification of riffs, shouting, and slow groove rhythm.

I did mention that this is FIREBREATHER’s sophomore album. If you have their self-titled debut album and are wondering how they have progressed, I’d say there is definite evolution. The production is much tighter; Noojd’s vocals are more relaxed and stronger; Pitcher and Noojd’s bass and guitar work, respectively, are more aligned and deeply furrowed; and the overall tonality is much more nuanced. I’d say steady growth all around. While former drummer, Fredrik Käll, was excellent, Alex Wittbeck is every bit as good.

“Under a Blood Moon” is a formidable contribution to the ever deepening Doom genre. I can’t tell you if FIREBREATHER is Traditional Doom, Epic Doom, or Stoner Doom, and I can’t tell you if they are aligned with their regional flavor of Doom or if they have sonic allegiance to some other country (insert Brexit commentary here). I can tell you, however, that the album rocks, and if you place your speakers flat against the floor, Monster Island may answer your call.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production:  8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Dancing Flames
2. Our Souls, They Burn
3. Closed Gate
4. Firebreather
5. We Bleed
6. The Siren
Lineup:
Mattias Nööjd – Guitars, vocals
Kyle Pitcher – Bass
Axel Wittbeck – Drums 
Record Label: Riding Easy Records
     


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Edited 26 November 2022
 

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