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Hashbreath : Hypnotic Voodoo Demo


Not quite what you might anticipate from the name, Hashbreath's energetic demo shows potential.



With a name like Hashbreath, and the crossed pipes adorning the cover of this limited demo tape, you might well be expecting some sort of blissed-out Stoner rambling to emerge from the speakers. The kind of half-focussed, unhurried jamming that doesn't require diverting too much effort from important things - like passing the roach along, giggling at nothing in particular with the rest of your bandmates and pausing to fend off the munchies with whatever sugary snacks are conveniently close to hand.

Or, of course, you might notice that the pipes are juxtaposed with an inverted cross, and develop a sneaking suspicion that maybe this isn't going to be quite such traditional grass-mellowed hippy territory after all. In which case, you'd be right.

This quartet of Swedes, hailing from Malmö, work with a fairly unconventional palette that primarily combines mid- to high-tempo Sludge/Stoner instrumentation with falsetto-shrieked vocals, sounding something like Weedeater might have done if they'd hired Forgotten Tomb's Herr Morbid as frontman. That's not as excruciating as it sounds on paper, I hasten to add: just quite unexpected - particularly for a Swedish project. For some reason (probably the vocals also being reminiscent of Mourning Dawn, et al), it's the sort of sound I'd find far less surprising if it were French in origin.

I hesitate to throw a hybrid Black/ qualifier into the genre, though, because - vocals and logo aside - everything else is recognisably school of Sabbath, with added fuzz. Equally, though, the voice is too dominant a feature to completely gloss over; perhaps 'blackened' would be a suitable compromise. Especially since the music backs it up with a certain degree of aggression, not to mention energy and devil-may-care swagger. When it rocks out, it pretty much commits to kicking arse and not bothering to take names. The rest of the time, it stomps along at a fair lick, laying down bass-heavy riffs with an ominous heaviness and throwing in the occasional squalling lead break and drum fill for good measure.

For a demo, I'd also have to commend the quality of production and mix. Self-produced it may be, but it was studio-recorded and it sounds like the engineer knew exactly what he was doing. There's a satisfactory weight to proceedings, and clarity behind the intentional distortion on the instruments. It's also pretty much together, playing-wise: the timing is spot-on, and the band work well together as a unit.

So, those are all the good points. On the flip side, the vocal style is very much a love-or-hate thing, yet without it, there's nothing all that remarkable about the music. It's very competently done, but in a vein that plenty of people have been doing, very competently, for the best part of 40 years now. And even after listening to it several times, the sung lyrics are pretty well incomprehensible: they may well, in common with the few (rather effective) spoken passages, not be in English - but I can't even be sure of that much. The album actually leads with its best shot - the punchy, Sabbath-esque 'The Big Chill' - but after that, the vocal novelty wears off a little, and by the time of the overlong closer 'Black Voodoo Drug Lord', things have started to drag on a bit.

I can't help but think that, firstly, these particular tracks would absolutely rock in a live setting and that, secondly, it wouldn't take much to inject a bit more variety and spark into any studio follow-up. The potential's definitely there, and bearing in mind that this is a demo release, it's an achievement to get that across. So, although 'Hypnotic Voodoo Demo' doesn't do enough on its own to merit a tremendous score, it does make me think there could well be something interesting waiting in the wings from Hashbreath.


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Reviewer's rating: 6.5/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. The Big Chill
2. Hashbreath
3. Goosebuds
4. Black Voodoo Drug Lord

Duration : Approx. 26 minutes

Visit the Hashbreath bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-10-19 by Mike Liassides
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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