Firebreather Return With a Grimly Focused New Record

by delarue

Swedish metal band Firebreather‘s latest album Dwell in the Fog – streaming at Bandcamp -is much more straightforward and doom-oriented than their previous work. It’s less ornate, more focused, keeping the black metal and NWOBHM influences at a distance this time. Slow tempos, big hooks and a wall of chords rather than solos are the rule this time out.

The album is well titled: the music is more of an immersive roar than a crush. The opening track, Kiss of Your Blade has gritty distortion on the guitars and the bass, a brooding minor-key hook over a churning 6/8 groove, a few hints of Iron Maiden twin harmonies, and a weirdly syncopated interlude. That sets the stage for the rest of the record.

The album’s title track rises out of an ominous flange bass intro to a grimy, enveloping chromatic dirge, frontman Mattias Nööjd’s guitar in tandem with bassist Nicklas Hellqvist’s stygian chords over drummer Axel Wittbeck’s dynamically shifting attack. Finally, six and a half minutes in, we get a fleeting bluesmetal solo.

Wittbeck’s relentless waves pound the shoreline while the rest of the band work a menacing chromatic growl in Weather the Storm. A brooding intro gives way to a catchy descending riff in Sorrow, which is angrier than it is sad, Wittbeck once again coloring the music with his judiciously placed rolls and volleys. Nööjd finally cuts loose with a steady heavy blues solo.

They pick up the pace a little in The Creed with slurry chords and a hypnotically charging bridge. The band save their heaviest artillery for the album’s final cut, Spirit’s Flown, Nööjd’s machete picking, uneasily resonant leads and guttural roar over the gravel of the bass and increasing agitation from behind the kit. And then suddenly it’s over. It’s early in the year, but in its own bludgeoningly clear way, this is one of the best albums of 2022 so far.