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December 26, 2004

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OUR RATING - 8 /10

I've been beaten and dragged. Before I go any further, let me make it clear that I didn't ask to be hit in my face and chest and then pulled through the streets by a rusty ox-cart. It just happened. Breather Resist's newest effort, Charmer, arrived in my mail.

Deadguy meets Karp meets Kurt Ballou. Aggressive, heavy, and groove-laden. Bass that keeps the song firmly on-track while the guitar fights someone or something. Maybe I'm not built for this because I cover my ears during movie gunfights and this record is like falling into a war zone. Often the instruments are tripping over themselves to see who can hit you first. Everyone is in attack-mode. Doubtlessly, many listeners are into that. But to this reviewer, Breather Resist are actually at their best when embracing their less-pummeling side. There are only so many punches you can take before they all feel the same.

I believe they swiped their moniker from the Hoover song of the same name, and it feels like that isn't the only homage paid to that DC band and their contemporaries. The less brutal songwriting on this album is obviously informed by post-punk and 90's emo. Heroin and Drive Like Jehu are clawing just below the surface of this album, waiting to be freed from the prison-riot happening around them. It's those voices from the grave that make this album worth the occasional redundancies that generally can't be helped when making a record this heavy.

The lyrics are as confrontational and aggressive as the music, but not particularly insightful or relatable to this reviewer. The album artwork is easily the best I've seen this year and probably deserves its own review in a trade magazine for design. The production work is masterful and manages teeth-rattling heaviness while treating each instrument with care.

Bottom Line: The tasteless will gravitate to this record because it is genuinely heavy, and that's all they care about. However, hardcore punk fans with refined palates will embrace this record for what it is: an honor-student with brass knuckles. As a matter of taste, I could've used even more finesse and less beating with a shovel, but even I can't deny that this is the highest-quality shovel beating around. It may not be my record-of-the-year but I guarantee it's the album some people have been waiting all year for.


Patrick Kindlon