Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bet You Didn't Expect These Guys To Play Breakdowns

We all remember that this whole blog stemmed from our hatred of all things HxC, right? It's been a while since we've talked about something that isn't actually news, but something has come to my attention recently, and I'd like to see what everyone else thinks about it. We all know bands like Suicide Silence, Emmure, The Acacia Strain and all those other bands are more or less obligated to play obscene amounts of breakdowns, it's pretty much their lifeblood. But what would happen if the bands we always stick by, the super heavy, super brutal tr00 bands, the ones we proudly name when we're discussing "real" metal, suddenly managed to sneak a breakdown past us? Would we all yell Cryptopsy and start gathering pitchforks and torches (for the record I actually like the new Cryptopsy), or would people generally be cool with it as long as it doesn't become a constant for that band? Well, that's what I aim to find out, so here's a few examples of songs that are by probably the last bands you would expect to include blatant breakdowns in their songs. Let it be known now that I don't dislike any of these bands, or even the songs that I'm about to show, I'm just remarking that they caught me totally off guard when I first heard them.

Behemoth- "The Reign ov Shemsu-Hor"

(Breakdown starts at 2:09)

This is the one that caught me off guard the most. It's pretty much a proven scientific fact that Behemoth is one of the single heaviest death metal bands on the planet, a band that most would say shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence as the word "breakdown", but this part sounds like it was ripped right out of an I Declare War song. Granted it's still heavy and beefy enough to make your balls shrivel, but a breakdown is a breakdown is a breakdown. And to think that this is on the same album as some of the songs that have made Behemoth famous, like "Demigod", "Conquer All" and "Slaves Shall Serve". Then again, I guess if you're going to play a breakdown you might as well play it like this, because as far as breakdowns go this is actually really good, and the rest of the song is just as fast and evil as any other Behemoth song.

Vital Remains- "Savior To None, Failure For All"

(Breakdown starts at 2:40)

Alright, this one's a little easier to swallow. It's still very much a breakdown, but it doesn't last for very long, and Dave Suzuki plays his signature shredding leads over a good portion of it. This is something that I think deathcore bands could stand to learn a lot from: if you absolutely must play YET ANOTHER fucking breakdown, at least have the other guitarist doing something else over it, like a solo or a cool riff, don't just whore the chugga-chug chug over and over again with both guitars, it's fucking exhausting that way. In any case, I was once again extremely surprised to see a legit death metal band, one generally held in very high regard, suddenly busting out a breakdown, and once again on the very same album that made them famous. However, in this particular case I actually kind of like what the breakdown does for this song. With their lightning fast blast beats, tremolo picking and shredding solos, Vital Remains' brand of blackened death metal is pretty much America's answer to Behemoth, but this breakdown is something of a brief respite from the madness, and with songs that often exceed seven or eight minutes in length, that counts for a lot more than you might think.

Pantera- "Slaughtered"

(Breakdown is at the beginning of the song)

We all know that Pantera is famous for their constant grooves, the kind of riffs and beats that you just can't help but bob your head to. In fact, most people also know that Pantera has lots of songs with parts that could be considered breakdowns, most notably at the end of "Domination". But nobody seems to mention this song when they're talking about that, and this song is probably the best demonstration of it. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this band and this song, but there is no way that's not a breakdown. For the safety of the person I'm about to talk about I won't use any names, but I have one friend who is a devout Christian and is really big into the Christian metalcore/deathcore scene, and when I showed him this song he said, and I quote, "Oh man, I could totally two-step to this". There you have it, a self-proclaimed hardcore dancer agrees that this is a genuine, bona-fide, two-steppable breakdown, written by none other than Pantera. Do you need any more proof than that?

Fleshgod Apocalypse- "In Honour of Reason"

(Breakdown is at the beginning of the song... again)

Alright, seriously, defend it all you want, that is a fucking breakdown if ever there was one. The first time my friend ever played me this song, I was seriously getting ready to tell him to turn it off and put something else on, because I literally thought he was showing me the new Born of Osiris song or something. Fortunately the awesome kicked in about ten seconds later, and I've been in love with Fleshgod ever since. I'll admit, the pattern is insanely complicated and I have no idea how they managed to memorize and synchronize it (ooh nice rhyme, didn't see that one 'til after I typed it), but the fact is they're only playing the open E string the whole time, so it's a breakdown no matter how you slice it. Normally I would say it might make more sense to have something like that happen in the middle of the song, but in this case it works out nicely, because it's a bit of a fakeout. It's like they're getting it out of their system early, so that when it's over they can stop and yell "PSYCHE!" and then play awesome death metal for the rest of the time. Now that's something I'd like to see a band do at a show, if anyone's reading this who's in a band that regularly plays shows, you can have that idea for free. Send us a video or something if you do, it'll be a good laugh.

Right, you get the point. As I said in the beginning, I'm not trying to demean any of these bands at all, they're some of my all-time favorites, and one breakdown isn't going to change that, I just felt that these specific songs needed to be addressed. Leave your thoughts on all this in the comments below, Tweet about it, Facebook it, whatever the fuck you nerds do on the Interwebs these days. Make sure you make yourself a blogspot profile and follow Mosh Rebellion as well, don't forget that we're trying to bring the number of followers up to fifty so we can do a little something special for you guys and gals. Tell you what, if we can get it to thirty, we'll tell you what it is, and then we'll see if that's enough to put us over to fifty, in which case we'll actually go through with it. Sleep with one eye open, kiddies ;)

Metallica reference FTW
-The Baby Killer


  1. I know what your saying, but there is a vast difference between "HxC" breakdowns and the ones listed. In bands like Lamb of God, Pantera, Behemoth, etc, the listener used to not jump to breakdown, or relate it to bad bands. But when it comes to bands like Suicide Silence and Emmure, your right, they have been built upon it. There is no creativity in these bands, its just trendy. With LoG or Pantera or others, they don't do it as often, and even if so, its not a stupid chugga chugga breakdown. Like a friend said to me "the reason we hate breakdowns is because they are so overplayed nowadays." I used to never think LoG had breakdowns, just heavy parts to headbang to and \m/. Its this cursed offspring that builds songs off of "being heavy" and these stupid HxC dancers

  2. Great article man, but you shoulda used the breakdown form the end of Domination when talking about Pantera. That breakdown is legendary!

  3. Very different thing I would say... These breakdowns are rare, but of course they exist. But simply by virtue of their rarity, they are different. Meaning it is an indication that the decision to use that kind of riff was a conscience part of the creative process. I can imagine Nergal, Dave Suzuki, Vinnie and Dime, and our Italian Fleshgod Friends (who clearly know a thing or too about music theory) coming to a point in their creative process and saying, "this part of the song needs something that grooves and destroys." It is as simple as that. It's not like the cookie-cutter deathcore bands that essentially have preconceived song structures that are breakdown-centric. They would sacrifice the song in a heartbeat, if it did not fit the mold.

    Anyway, I was reminded of Doc Coyle's (of God Forbid) January 2010 blog for MetalSucks on this topic. Yes, I know God Forbid doesn't fit the motif for this site and plays lots of breakdowns in his songs, but Doc is a super respectable guitarist and voices his opinions coherently. You don't have to agree with him (I certainly do not on many of his points), but it is cool to read a successful musician's take on it. So I will let the article speak for itself: