Breather Resist - Charmer (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Breather Resist

Charmer (2004)

Jade Tree

I would like to take this opportunity to propose a new rule when evaluating hardcore, metal and other "heavy" releases. It is a simple little aphorism, but I feel it succinctly explains what really matters. And it goes like this: "You can scream in my face, but you can't make me care."

Sadly, all too many bands fail this simple test. Screaming, and playing very fast - or alternately, very slow and "sludgy" is often what passes for songwriting. A label uses a few archetypal adjectives in the biography like "intense" or "brutal" and we're off to the pressing plant. But in the end, a wonderfully packaged record with a literary, clever biography is still just a well packaged and marketed piece of plastic.

Charmer, the Jade Tree debut of this Louisville, Kentucky foursome has all the elements of an incredible record. The band includes a member of Black Cross and the underrated National Acrobat. They fuse elements of hardcore, crust and metal into a record approximating a melding of New Jersey's Deadguy and Seattle's Botch and boast superb production courtesy of Kurt Ballou.

And yet, while I'm sure - as many will point out - they're wonderful, kind people who care deeply about things and put on a great live show, the record itself fails to deliver anything genuinely moving.

From the opening track till the end, the band shifts through tempos and sounds, from discordant guitar noises, to thick dirty riffs; vocalist Steve Sindoni screams his lungs out and the band blasts through eleven tracks with some gusto. But despite a glut of transitions, and stylistic flourishes, there is little cohesion and instead of songs, you end up with a bunch of chunks of music which seem glued together at random.

Certainly the record might have impressed me more in the late nineties, but since then, we're seen how far the "noisecore" genre can be pushed. With the Botch and Coalesce's prototypical noise records We Are Romans and 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening boasting both schizophrenic and yet tight songwriting, Charmer just sounds dated and lacks the progressive elements and fully realized songs that justified those genre defining records.

In short, it's difficult to listen to not because of a lack of energy, or clever "parts" but because it never seems to go anywhere. And while I can appreciate the anti-climatic songwriting of a band like Neurosis, Breather Resist lacks the variety of elements that made them interesting. Clearly, the failure is in the transition from idea to execution. There is certainly no weaknesses in the performance or production, but simply in the lack of heft in the songs.