The New Breaths Album
The new Breaths album "Though Life" is on its way, and it's about time that I do this feature about it. The vegan post-music project from Richmond, Virginia, has announced the record for early next year.
TW: Grief, bullying, death, self-doubt, addiction
Breaths founder Jason is convinced that heavy music and veganism have a lot in common. He compares the passion, empathy, and willingness to go vegan to producing music that is not always conducive to a career.
In our interview, he revealed that dark post-music embodies the dichotomy of beauty and brutality – both can exist simultaneously. It seems the same with veganism: While you're enjoying healthy food and the fact that you don't harm any animals, it's still hard to escape the brutal images from animal agriculture.
Roots in 1990's Hardcore
Breaths – "Though Life"
With his music, Jason Roberts, aka Breaths, expresses precisely that. You can sense the spirit of his idols Cattle Decapitation and Earth Crisis, who already showed him in the 1990s that veganism has strong roots in extreme music, just as much as the diverse worlds of bands like The Ocean, Deftones, Sleep Token and Holy Fawn.
His new record is not only about his vegan lifestyle and his reflections on topics like distorted morality and cognitive dissonance – like the here already presented track "The Forgotten Ones" from his first album "Lined In Silver". In "Though Life", Jason tells his very personal story.
"Though Life" deals primarily with the trauma of his life. At the same time, Jason wants to show us that there is always hope in our world. He cleverly combines post-metal, black metal, doom, shoegaze, prog and (post-)hardcore elements and creates something completely new. Something that immediately captivates you when you put on the record and seems to stay with you for a long time afterwards.
A musical autobiography
Everything he has experienced in his life so far also appears on his second album: Light and shadow, harshness and tenderness, love and sadness. Jason told me that he wanted to phrase that life has turned out very differently for him than he suspected:
"It's much bigger than I ever dreamed it could be",
he said. The sound is definitely related to his previous album "Lined In Silver" but has become even more robust. The six songs in total have a lot to offer – not only in terms of mood. "The Elders" is about the loss of the loved ones in his life, about cancer, illness and grief.
"It started at age three. Losing those two generations before me. And the loss continued till I was 23. With all of my elders gone"
Jason yells accusingly and full of pain into the mic. One of these people then reappears in the longest song on the album, "The Patriarch", at 8:05:
"But I barely remember your face. Wish I could see it. A lot of what could have beens. If you were with us. What would be different? Would I be the same?"
Bullies at school
"The Tormented" is about Jason's difficult school days, bullying, acceptance and wanting to make real friends.
"All I wanted was to have some friends with similar interests. Things in common."
With "The Empty", Jason has written an ode to the forgotten ones who have to suffer behind high walls. Silent and invisible to us. Screaming with fear and pain on their dark side. Full of disbelief and contempt for their tormentors. Whether this is about the meat industry is a matter of interpretation.
"I've seen their faces. They all look at me the same. Vacant and silent Staring through me with disdain."
"The Matriarch" is probably the most emotive and poignant track on "Though Life". It is about a maternal person (probably Jason's mother) who has sacrificed everything in her life to protect her loved ones.
"I am grateful for you. The one who sacrificed everything in your life for me without question."
A final, painful farewell
The last track, "The Wayward", is all about the final farewell of an addict who gradually shows his true face and finally fades away from alcohol. Jason has deftly wrapped this hard material in melodies, and he did it more than authentically. First, he cries out his pain about the loss, only to immediately regain his composure and forgive – as anger starts to dominate again. The brother just couldn't help it. It was just the way he was:
"Now that you are buried underneath, you'd say that we were family. You'd say, 'I love you, brother'. That blood was thicker than water. But then you'd fuck us over. I'll never know, so I'll just end it right here with this final goodbye."
Even though in life, it often doesn't end well: Hope is still there. "Though Life" sensitively expresses this. Jason manages to banish the grey thoughts of everyday life while listening to his record – shifting the focus to something with more power and self-respect. Despite the tragedies from his life he describes in his songs, he brings us strength and positive vibes – just what I was hoping for with this record.
"Though Life" is a listening pleasure
During the pandemic, Jason has been busy recording the vocals, guitar and bass tracks, programming, sound engineering, producing, mixing and mastering his new record. The result is undoubtedly worth listening to. Jason's talents in all mentioned areas are professional in any way.
Since improvements can already be heard since the already superb "Lined In Silver", I am very sorry, but the bar for the following recordings is pretty high for Breaths now.
Emotion and compassion
Emotional, multi-layered, heavy and complex music – if this description appeals to you, "Though Life" could be a contender for your album of the year 2022. Jason has put to music that moment when emotions become a rollercoaster that shoots you from deep sadness-caused intoxication into orbit at the speed of sound and brings you back again in no time.
The record is full of gloom, introverted modesty, melancholy, anger, temperament, and skill in dealing with music and words. All the things that life really is about, like hope, love, and compassion, become tangible and don't seem so far away anymore. And somehow a bit more real.
Please check out "Though Life". You won't regret it. The complete record will be officially released at the beginning of the year.