December 9, 2004
BREATHER RESIST [I]CHARMER[/I] REVIEW
First, allow me to get this out of the way: Jesus Lizard Jesus Lizard Jesus Lizard. As enjoyable and righteously fierce as Breather Resist are, they start and end with the Jesus Lizard. Caveat listener-- if you're uncomfortable with a group proudly wearing a seminal predecessor's influence on their sleeve, then Alt-Tab yourself out of this browser window and give your (hopefully) well-worn copies of Liar and Goat and Bang another go-around. On the other hand, if you're game to hear a group gamely reinvent the Judas Cradle, then you could do worse than to give these kids a chance.
So, yeah, it's pretty clear guitarist Evan Patterson holds Duane Denison in high regard. The way Patterson's winding, nauseous leads (cf. his careening string-bending in "Amphetamine Praise") slither around the shredded hoarse vocals and careen off of the stiff yet febrile rhythm section, one can't help but notice the similarities. Not that this is a bad thing-- Patterson should take pride in being able to both crunch numbers (as in the gear-shifting "Honest to God") and perform simple math (such as the spacious noodling introducing "Loose Lipped Error") with such violent grace.
Charmer takes little time to get up to speed. The introductory track, "An Insomniac's Complexion", opens with three quick hits, pauses for a moment atop a bed of squealing feedback, and then begins thrashing. The group can squeeze five minutes' worth of song into 120 seconds ("A Passing Glance"), stretch their hyper kinetic pummeling out to comfortably fit a six-minute frame ("Amphetamine Praise"), and switch seamlessly between pensive throbbing and full-on fury without breaking stride. (Take your pick from any of the 11 tracks; I'll stand behind the aforementioned opener.)
Though the sturm and drang the group regularly summons doesn't fail to impress, the quieter moments sprinkled sparingly throughout-- the guitar/trumpet duet that introduces "As Far as Goodbyes Go", the two minutes of relative quiet at the start of "Loose Lipped Error" slowly ratcheting the level of tension, and the scream at the end of the CD that morphs into what sounds like a sped-up bagpipe track digitally castrated-- might be more impressive. It's easy to just hit the one note and hold it; it takes skill and confidence to try different tacts, and it's a whole different proposition to try these sorts of changes at the speeds Breather Resist achieve.
And, lest we forget, while the band grinds their way through these taut catharses, there's vocalist Steven Sindoni riding the wave and doing his best to splay his vocal chords through volume and will. If you can actually make out any words he's screaming, then kudos to you-- it's not as if Sindoni offers any help. The few moments of vocal clarity I found were quickly subsumed and subdued. Granted, in the wake of a glorious racket such as the stuff Breather Resist concoct, it's more important to get across to the listener the unfettered aggression and fury of the music as a whole than to be implicitly understood. Breather Resist send that message out loud and clear. And I do mean loud.
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