You've been bound and gagged. Lack of oxygen causes you to go unconscious. It's maybe six minutes you're out. When you come to, your head is being held inches above the highway going 80 miles per hour. A faceless man in black robes has you by the neck and is dangling you off the back of a truck. There's a crucifix. Why are you here? What the fuck is this? "Let go," you try to scream. Life is slowly passing away. This is Black Breath, a metal band from Seattle whose sound is an abduction. That's what the fuck it is. A taking of your soul by unholy tones. Their releases on Southern Lord Records are an active listening experience. Songs maul with speed and fear, stamping out pronounced, craning throb-tempos.
The sounds of Black Breath are a Kobe beef cow that's fallen into an overstocked piranha pond. See the meat torn off by teeth and guitars, bone by bone. Distinct and unholy. Rapid-fire sections are feats of foul agility. Drums are a cauldron of malevolent and blurred divisibility. Vocals are ululations, loud lamenting in exorcist tongues. The Black Breath song "Murder" summons an M18 Hellcat tank, the fastest tracked armored fighting vehicle from WWII. Then there's "Eat the Witch," a song the whole family can enjoy. Vocalist Neil McAdams scream-sings, "The scent of hell is on her lips/Lift up her robes/Finger the darkness/The witch's cry/Inside of her the devil has lived." It's antagonistic music. Wretched, dark, and astounding. Drummer Jamie Byrum spoke. I was neither bound nor gagged.
Talk about your sacrifice of baby animals.
I cook dead animals for a living at Linda's Tavern, that's about it. That's not true—two of us had a goat roast on 6/6/06 in my backyard. A friend bought the goat, slaughtered it, and we took turns hand-cranking it on a spit and had a party. Scared some neighbors that day.
I don't mean to assume you guys sacrifice only baby animals. What other things do you sacrifice?
What would Black Breath do to Justin Timberlake if you were trapped in an elevator with him for 48 hours?
Play cribbage? Shoot a sex tape? I dunno, what kind of fucking question is that?
What do y'all say when people ask you if you're satanic?
We're not satanic.
Black Breath have a full-length coming out in a couple of months, right? What fucked-up shit happened during the recording? How many times did you guys bleed on gravestones?
Yeah, we have a new LP coming out in March called Sentenced to Life. Thirty-three minutes' worth of pretty nasty shit. It's faster and meaner than anything we've done so far, which is a good thing. We recorded it in Salem [Massachusetts] with Kurt Ballou, and I think he did a bang-up job. Nothing too fucked-up happened during the recording, outside of us not having our shit together. But that's not too surprising. One thing was that I saw Rob Zombie taking photos of the church next door while I was on a smoke break.
The Rob Zombie? Did you say hello? How did you know it was him? Are you a Rob Zombie fan? Is he more human than human?
I think Rob Zombie probably sticks out wherever he goes, but in Salem, which is like the Bellingham of New England, there was no question. Between the multicolored dreads, bell-bottoms, and tan leather jackets, it was a dead ringer. I went and got everyone to stop what they were doing for a second opinion, and we all agreed. I guess he was filming a movie about Salem and was scouting out some cool locations, which are all over the place there.
Is Rob Zombie a satanist? Do you think Rob Zombie watercolors?
I have no idea. I didn't get a chance to ask him.
Is it possible to be fun-loving and satanic at the same time?
I think so. Isn't satanism all about worshipping yourself and doing whatever feels good to only you at the time? What's more fun than that? Maybe we are satanic, after all.
Does anyone in Black Breath like to paint light-blue flowers and clouds with watercolors? Like Rob Zombie?
Elijah [Nelson], our bass player, crushes high scores on pinball games all over Seattle daily. He leaves the initials "ELF." Look for it. Our ex-guitarist Zack [Muljat] quit the band to become a lawyer and an enormous wimp.
How has Black Breath evolved over the last year?
Well, seeing how all the new material was written in the winter of 2010–2011, not much has changed. I would say we are a tighter live band now more than ever due to playing lots of shows, and the addition of our new guitarist Mark [Palm] who is a total ripper and stand-up guy.
How has it been on Southern Lord? What's next for Black Breath?
Southern Lord and everyone who runs it are cool. I think they're gonna put out some cool shit this year, like the new Acephalix. Go check 'em out. What's next for us? Europe in April with some Swedish friends, and then the US in June, I hope. Playing some local shows in the meantime.
What inspires Black Breath?
Old death metal, Swedish, English, US, and Japanese hardcore, NWOBHM, speed metal, hard rock, a ton of shit. Why? Because it's some of the best shit out there and brings forth feelings of rage and stage diving.
Who is the most evil person alive on earth right now? Do you love them?
King Diamond, and yes we love him.
How was Kurt Ballou able to dial y'all in?
Kurt helped out a lot on this record. More so than the last one we did with him. Kurt is the master and has a feeling for everything in his studio, but he really knows guitars. He had some cool ideas about different pedal/amp combinations that we wouldn't have thought to do. He contributed tons to the songs themselves. More of a producer role, which was awesome and helpful.
Anything else you want to say?