(Photo by Mei Lewis / Mission Photographic)

I’d like to start by stating that unless you were in a horrendous accident or someone you really liked ended up dead or something, you missed out on the best gig of this year.

Any self-respecting metal fan should already be familiar with Black Breath. Hailing from Seattle, backed up by Southern Lord Records and armed to the teeth with a brutal set of riffs and a drummer who could show Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s drum machine a thing or two, they’re truly the ‘Where the fuck did these guys come from!?’ band of the last few years.

I’d been looking forward to this show for months and to see a band that has been on tour across the states with Converge play in a small venue like Buffalo was a pretty cool prospect. The line-up for the show was ably beefed out by Swansea/London/Brecon hardcore stalwarts 33 and unpleasant metalcore types Shaped By Fate.

Due to being in work all day and living an hour away, I got to the gig just after 33 finished playing. You could have expected to hear some old-school 80’s hardcore  sung by some gnarly tattooed dudes with a lot of anger. Or maybe they’ve changed their style to some folk-rap metal crossover since the last time I saw them. This is pretty unlikely though, seeing as they’ve recently played a few dates with Gallows and Nails and they aren’t really into that sort of thing. I guess I won’t find out until the next time I  get the chance to see them play.

I was there in time to catch Shaped By Fate though. Somehow I had never seen them before and I can’t say I’d be in too much of a hurry to see them play again. The band is fairly standard metalcore/hardcore crossover and are renowned for their ‘energetic’ live show. Just before the band started playing, their singer asked everyone to move forward, then told everyone that they were going to be in harm’s way once they started playing.

Maybe the crowd wasn’t what the band was used to playing to, but their singer was extremely obnoxious in his demands to try and get people to go ‘fucking mental’ all the time and spent the majority of the set harassing anyone in the crowd who was actually bothering to watch the band. After nearly getting a glass bottle smashed into my face because of the singer trying to whip up an uninterested crowd, I decided to go to the bar. Surely being part of the hardcore scene means going to the shows and supporting the bands without someone telling you how you should be doing it? Musically, the band was pretty cool, but the singer left a bad taste in my mouth with his macho tough-guy posturing.

Black Breath came onto the stage with little fanfare and opened up with Black Sin (Spit On The Cross). The band all went at it flat out with heads banging and hair flying everywhere and it was like being transported back to one of the first metal gigs of your life. Black Breath have all the elements of an awesome metal band; long hair, beards, references to being evil that doesn’t take itself too seriously, fast drums, distorted guitars and throat shredding vocals.

For a band who are only one album and an EP into their career, there is no shortage of killer material to choose from. They have taken all the best elements of Swedish death metal like Entombed, hardcore punk like Discharge and the Kill ‘Em All era thrash of Metallica  and created a raging beast that only headbanging and beer can satisfy.

There was no real let up in the pace of the set, with the band playing more than half the songs from their Heavy Breathing album and half of the songs from their Razor To Oblivion EP. There was even an added metal Easter egg thrown in with the inclusion of a cover of Desperate Cry by Sepultura.

To see a band like Black Breath playing in a small venue packed out full of people pretty much made my year and I can’t remember the last time I went to a show where I consistently banged my head like I was 16 again without giving a shit what anyone else thought. With the metal/hardcore scene becoming more and more about fashion and coolness, it’s a massive breath of fresh air to find a band that’s made up of a genuine bunch of guys who love to play, drink a few beers and rock out with their audience.

There’s no bullshit or pretension and I found myself with a shit-eating grin plastered across my face from the start to the finish of their set and wished for once that there would be an encore. Everyone was having a good time, I didn’t have some jerk trying to push me over or punch me in the face and I can’t think of a time where seeing a band play made me feel so glad to be alive.

Their singer asked for the disco ball hanging from the ceiling to be turned on before they finished up their set with WeWhoCannotBeNamed. People slammed into each other and had a blast under the same disco lights that would be shining on an altogether different crowd of people for the dubstep stylings of James Blake, who was playing after them.

Anybody who missed the band this time around should hand in their membership card to the Metal Club ™ and kick themselves for missing out on the best metal band of the last decade.

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