Return to Pangea
I’ll be honest: Most new thrash bands bore me. Although I dearly love the genre, the sad fact is that many of these young acts are second-rate copycats of the masters, offering up absolutely nothing new or worthwhile, just stock riffs, uninteresting songwriting and bad vocals. So for a newer thrash band to catch my ear in 2015, they’ve got to be something special. Well, the lads in Breathless, the pride of Spanish island Mallorca, definitely fit into that category with their second album, ‘Return to Pangea.’ The three-piece is led by bearded blond guitarist/vocalist Eduardo Moreno, who wails away on his Dean axe while spitting out the lyrics in a high-pitched abrasive rasp that is surprisingly intelligible and manages not to sound like every other new thrash vocalist out there. Moreno’s partners in crime are Oscar Maestre (who switched from guitar to bass when the band’s bass player quit following the release of their debut album) and drummer Joan Font. Although this is only their second album, Breathless have been toiling away since 1999. And they’ve treated us to a very fine album in the form of ‘Return to Pangea.’
What I find most engaging about Breathless is their willingness to think outside the box a bit with their arrangements, to incorporate nuggets of melody and unexpected breaks, without sacrificing raging (and often brutal) thrash energy along the way. Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that ‘Return to Pangea’ is a progressive, technical thrash release like Watchtower or something. To the contrary, many parts of this album are like lead track “Killing-Sophy,” in that they are straightforward, stripped-down, basic thrash, undeniably effective but primitive. But Breathless are skilled and clever enough to vary their attack, recognizing that 44 minutes of relentless blasting away can numb the mind and repel the listener. So they’ve included dynamics in their music to keep it interesting, such as the totally-out-of-left-field calm melodic break in the middle of “Introspective Nightmare,” the tasteful and melodic leadwork from Moreno that crops up from time to time, the midtempo trad metal section that leavens “Return to Pangea,” and the gentle intro to “Beyond the Ritual.”
You get the point. Breathless are a band that could methodically rip the listener apart with surgical precision, but they inject enough melody and diversity into the recipe to eliminate monotony and create counterpoint and balance. The result is a highly enjoyable exercise in powerful thrash with a modern, polished production. ‘Return to Pangea’ doesn’t sound dated, but it also doesn’t sound polluted by metalcore fads, for example. Given the massive leap forward that Breathless have taken since their humble ‘Thrashumancy’ debut, I can’t wait to see where they go from here. Thrashers who are not afraid of melody and are looking for something a bit different from the same ol’ same ol’ should investigate ‘Return to Pangea’ without delay.
~ Review by Kit Ekman~