It’s weirdly satisfying when a band’s name aligns perfectly with their sound. Blowtorch guitars and bass, pounding drums, and coarse, burly vocals comprise the Gothenburg, Sweden trio Firebreather. With an arsenal of molten riffs at the ready, the band unleashes stoner doom fury on their latest barnburner of an album Under A Blood Moon.
The band has conjured up some wicked guitar tones on this album. The finger-picked guitars that open the album sound like chimes of armageddon. The best intro though goes to “Closed Gate” with its smoldering fuzz guitar slides. Aside from the cool psychedelic jam opening “The Siren”, the album is enshrouded in a haze of fuzzy guitars. The fuzz bass blends well with the guitars, creating a mighty wall of sound.
Tone isn’t everything of course. Thankfully, Firebreather have brought some pummeling, monolithic riffs along for the ride. “Dancing Flames” and “Closed Gate” boast some iconic doom riffage, while the hardest hitting riffs are on “Our Souls, They Burn”. This song also throws in the occasional use of feedback and pick slides, and there’s this absolute tyrant of a riff that comes in just when you think the song is over. With the combined wall of fuzz and crushing riffs, the songs reach a meditative state of heaviness.
The drums double down on these trance-like moments. Drummer Axel Wittbeck provides plenty of hypnotic marches and extended tom fills throughout the album. Great examples of this are in the verses of “The Siren” and the second half of “We Bleed”. Singer/guitarist Mattias Nööjd’s vocals are incredibly consistent. He maintains this feral intensity throughout as he bellows lyrics that sound as if they were lifted from some ancient pagan ritual. This combination of ferocious vocals and fuzzy, hypnotic music creates an occult vibe that mirrors the cover art.
My only gripe with this album is that it’s a bit front-loaded. That’s partially because its first three songs are untouchable, but also the songwriting quality dips a bit in the latter half. The eponymous “Firebreather” has this killer, bombastic intro that transitions nicely from “Closed Gate”, as well as some gnarly riffage in other spots, but as a whole the song is a little too scatterbrained. “We Bleed” suffers from the opposite problem. The song gets a bit repetitive, especially the vocal melody. Luckily “We Bleed” gets more interesting in its second half, and the band brings things back around full swing with “The Siren”. The outro of this closing song in particular is fantastic – what a high mark to leave out on!
All in all, this is a solid venture into the occult for Firebreather. While it’s nothing new to the world of stoner doom, it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel because it’s done to such a high standard standard. Under A Blood Moon has all of the markings of a classic stoner doom album, and fans of the genre should heed to its might.
Firebreather can be found on:
Best Tracks: Closed Gate, Ours Souls They Burn, Dancing Flames
Weakest Tracks: We Bleed
FFO: High on Fire, Conan, Monolord
Overall Score: B+