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From Beauty to Turpitude, Pt. 4 - 75%

Xyrth, May 26th, 2017

Two years after the 100% hard rock-oriented Rock Lions and contrary to their nature, Faithful Breath decided to maintain things just as they were for that time being, with no crazy shifts in genre between albums as it had been their trait and keeping their faux Viking image, thus releasing what is stylistically an encore of their previous album, albeit with slightly stronger performance and compositions. For their fourth LP titled Hard Breath, the lineup remained a power trio, with Heinz Mikus providing manly but overtly generic vocals and a decent guitar attack, Horst "Piet" Stabenow still handling bass guitar duties and, for the third time in four records, a new drummer, Jürgen Düsterloh, who would prove to be the definitive one at the position, keeping the job well past the band's final transformation into speed/thrash outfit Risk and until its ultimately demise.

This trio showed marginally more power than the one before it, thanks to Düsterloh's greater drumming skills, showing good versatility even when the aesthetics of the album are not very broad, reminding me of Ian Paice. He shows good percussive chops in the solid instrumental “Riding to Mongolis”, perhaps inspired thematically by Iron Maiden's “Genghis Khan”, although musically in reminds me more of Budgie. And speaking of hard rock bands with a high-pitched vocalist, Mikus here did try his throat at some high note screams here and there (“Dark Angel” a good example), none of which are too convincing. His guitar playing, on the other hand, was his strongest to this point in the band's career, his solos more adventurous and his riff selection more memorable. Piet's bass playing is also more solid here than in anything he attempted before, showing his dexterity at the four strings in many places, but in particular during the funky, Coverdale & Hughes-era Deep Purple/Hawkwind-influenced “Fly to Another Star”.

The band at this point seemed content with their hard rock sound, but weren't afraid to try some new tricks here and there, like in the Led Zeppelin-esque closer “Night Comes Again”, which recalls the psychedelic break in “Whole Lotta Love”. But like most metalheads who would take pure heavy metal over pure hard rock any day, I have a preference for the heavier tunes on this record. Opener “Killers on the Loose” and the track “Warriors” almost sound like early USPM, slower and simpler Omen tunes… well, at least in spirit, since Omen's debut released one year after this one totally obliterates anything found here. “Give Me What I Need”, “Already Too Late”, “Under My Wheels” and their ilk are more cheerful hard rock numbers in the vein of ZZ Top or UFO, but just not as good. However, there's an overall heightened sense of aggression and punch in Faithful Breath's sound compared to their previous three albums, as the band at this point were probably interested in listening to what was coming out of the British Isles, and preparing to sail into that direction… musically speaking.

Conventional hard rocking blues vikings - 70%

autothrall, January 7th, 2010

Faithful Breath was an ace German band who held on to their working class, bluesy heavy metal/hard rock style long after many of their peers had transitioned to the blossoming new genres of the 80s. They would make this transition themselves in a few years, when they transformed into the great speed metal band Risk, but the early half of that decade brought us some good Faithful Breath records like Skol, Gold 'n Glory, and Hard Breath.

If you don't like a lot of traditional blues with your metal music, stay far away from this album, because it's everywhere. Tracks like "Give Me What I Need" and "Warriors" veer quite close to the source, and I honestly prefer the more metallic side of the album. "Killer on the Loose" reeks of "Immigrant Song", aside from Heinz Mikus' very conversational vocals and the chorus. "Under My Wheels" could have been on MTV alongside ZZ Top and the Dire Straits. "Kids, We Want the World" is a good cruising anthem. I also enjoy the instrumental "Riding to Mongolia" and the ballad gone rocker "Like an Eagle in the Sky" with its shrill backing vocal. "Night Comes On" is a great rocking climax to the album. Hard Breath is not my favorite album from this cult legend, both of its successors are superior (and a lot more metal), but it's entertaining enough if you are fond of early NWOBHM and can relate to the era.

Highlights: Kids, We Want the World, Like an Eagle in the Sky, Night Comes On