The Banner is one of those bands.
The Banner is one of those bands that you have the opportunity to see live, and either can't go, or you just say, "eh, I'll catch them next time." And before that next time comes around, you actually listen to their record, and all you can muster is "goddamnit." I had the opportunity to catch them in Syracuse over the summer, and opted otherwise, but I'm very much regretting it upon hearing Each Breath Haunted.
Thirteen tracks that mix the spirit of old-school hardcore, elements of screamo's heyday, and some rockân'roll for good measure. Add to that mixture a lot of dark, vivid lyrical and musical imagery, and you, in a nutshell, have the Banner. At its core a hardcore record, the added elements help them to branch out without the sound ever growing stale. "An Allergy To Sun" incorporates some great metallic riffs that really carry the song, while Blackhood incorporates some strong gang vocals. And while on the subject of vocals, singer Joey Southside thrusts a range of vocal styles to the forefront of the Banner's music; from the harsh screams of "Tragedy" to the straightforward, hardcore style of "Coffin Nails," it all works. It's just as versatile as they were intending, not just in vocals, but with the overall sounds of the tracks. The aforementioned "An Allergy..." sounds a good deal like Every Time I Die in parts, while the chaotic opener "Devilhawks" expands more on the screamo background the band possesses. "Hell On A Horse" displays the band at their absolute best. Opening the song with some squealing guitar and slowly increasing in volume, the song is a real dose of heavy, heavy music .The band's lyrics are definitely of note as well:
I make myself a bed of angels' wings, and crawl inside to warm my face and reptile skin / Crippled and limping at the torture of a thousand blades / My reign below the surface sheltered the shade of all my sins / I'm denied catharsis at every turn / And these hateful wounds will just not scab.That excerpt from "Muddweller" gives a peek into the sort of imagery that litters the rest of the songs. When coupled with the dark nature of the music, unrelenting guitar work and drum fills pound away. That's not to say the tempos don't get changed up, however, as "Interlude" and "Sovereign Of The Black Pit" offer far more subdued, instrumental efforts that segue well into the harder songs.
A terrific debut from one of Ferret's newer signings, and it serves as a prelude for some great things to come. An album that depends just as much on atmosphere as it does on brutality, Each Breath Haunted impresses in just about every possible area. A tight, heavy, and unrelenting sound that owns you for its almost 45-minute duration, never wavering, and never losing interest. This is definitely an album making me wish the Banner weren't one of those bands.