Album Review – Violent Life Violent Death / Come, Heavy Breath EP (2018)

Take a deep breath and enjoy a vicious and nostalgic feast of heavy sounds made in the United States, proving modern-day Metalcore can be just as pulverizing as old school extreme music.

Hailing from Charlotte, the most populous city in the U.S. state of North Carolina, the incendiary Metalcore unity known as Violent Life Violent Death made their mark in late 2016 with the release of their first studio offering, V-EP, a five-track vicious, nostalgic effort blending the most visceral elements of Metalcore with hints of heavier-than-hell genres such as Thrash and Death Metal. Now in 2018 the band formed by vocalist Scott Cowan, guitarists Joseph Benham and Joey Park, bassist Justin Campbell and drummer David Holquin returns with a refreshed and even more ruthless contribution in the form of their second release, a brand new EP entitled Come, Heavy Breath, proving modern-day Metalcore can be just as pulverizing as old school extreme music.

“Our goal was to create a piece of music that had nostalgic qualities to it but with a new-school edge. Having spent some time in other bands has definitely helped create the sound we have adapted with this band, as we took a good look into what we feel has worked and not worked for us in the past and narrowed it down,” said Violent Life Violent Death, also explaining a little more the concept behind their new EP. “With Come, Heavy Breath, we really wanted to illustrate moments of fervor that draw a gasp, or, a heavy breath, as the title depicts. These are the moments of awe that we each experience in life, whether they be conjured through excitement, joy, sadness, loss, lust, love, wonder, etc., while bringing them each to life through our music in as straight forward of a manner possible, demanding the attention of the listener.”

The title-track Come, Heavy Breath, an austere and dynamic Metalcore tune tailored for disturbing the peace of your neighborhood, couldn’t have started in a more distorted and violent way, with Scott beginning his growling attack while Justin and David generate a brutal neck-breaking ambience with their metallic weapons, whereas in Backbiter the band puts pedal to the metal in a sonic onslaught of contemporary Metalcore infused with Melodic Death Metal and traditional Death Metal elements, with the guitar duo Joseph and Joey being on absolute fire with their crushing riffs while Scott screams almost like if he was not human. Put differently, this magnificent song lives up not only to the band’s own name, but also to the legacy of the most violent forms of Metalcore and Hardcore. And in Rot they keep the level of aggressiveness and destruction extremely high, with the razor-edged sound of the guitars inspiring us all to slam into the pit while David also adds his touch of adrenaline to the music through his fierce and straightforward beats.

Mourn is another tune perfect for cracking your spine in half headbanging and for jumping up and down with the band, with the vocals by Scott sounding even more deranged and furious, making it quite impossible to stand still to such demonic display of modern metal music, and there’s no sign of the band slowing down as we face the next song in the EP, entitled Lovers/Deceivers. Quite the contrary, Violent Life Violent Death blast sheer aggression from their instruments, with highlights to the amazing synchronicity between David’s beats and Joseph and Joey’s infernal riffs. And as the last act in Come, Heavy Breath it’s time to roar and gnarl together with Scott during the six minutes of classy Metalcore featured in the song Narcissist, bringing some welcome elements and nuances from Thrash Metal, which in the end translates into an accelerated pace, groovier bass lines, and obviously not a single second of peace, with Joseph and Joey sounding crisp, raw and very melodic at the same time until the music fades into a somber and menacing finale.

After all is said and done, the excellent Come, Heavy Breath, which is by the way available for a full listen on YouTube, will certainly help Violent Life Violent Death cement their name as one of the most promising (and one of the heaviest) Metalcore acts of the past few years, leaving us eager for more of their flammable music. And in order to show your support to those five metallers from Charlotte, you can go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and purchase Come, Heavy Breath from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, as well as from iTunes or Amazon. And when you have the album on your hands, simply take a deep, heavy breath and enjoy Violent Life Violent Death’s chaotic onrush of sounds just the way the band itself expects you to do.

Best moments of the album: Backbiter and Mourn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing 
1. Come, Heavy Breath 3:51
2. Backbiter 3:39
3. Rot 2:50
4. Mourn 3:41
5. Lovers/Deceivers 2:10
6. Narcissist 6:05

Band members
Scott Cowan – vocals
Joseph Benham – guitar
Joey Park – guitar
Justin Campbell – bass
David Holquin – drums

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Metal Chick of the Month – Fallon Bowman

Then we lay there… Embracing our last stare… On a moonlit afternoon…

As The Headbanging Moose is based in Toronto, Canada, probably the most multi-cultural city in the world, there’s nothing better than having as our last metal chick of the year of 2017 a woman of Dutch and Indonesian descent that was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but that currently resides here in Toronto, playing an also diverse range of musical styles such as Alternative Metal, Nu Metal, Rock, Industrial and even Electronica. This woman, who’s a skillful vocalist and guitarist, goes by the name of Fallon Bowman, known for her involvement with the bands Kittie, Pigface and Amphibious Assault, as well as a solo career which she’s been pursuing since around 2011. Having said that, are you ready to bang your head to the electrifying music by the exotic Fallon?

Born on November 16, 1983 in Cape Town, a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain, Fallon has been active in the world of alternative and heavy music since 1996, when at the age of fourteen years old she helped to form Canadian Alternative Metal act Kittie with classmate Mercedes Lander and Mercedes’ sister, Morgan Lander, playing guitar and performing backing vocals for the band from their inception in 1996 until August 2001, when she left the band. As a matter of fact, her passion for music actually started a few years before Kittie, when she was around 10 years old, when she was fascinated with a guitar her grandfather had at his home in South Africa. However, she mentioned the guitar was not her first choice, as at first she wanted to be a drummer when she was around 12, but her parents were against it and she ended up getting a guitar from them after they saw her performance playing the song Violet, by Hole, at a school assembly with a friend using a friend’s guitar. Getting back to Kittie, Fallon has already explained several times in different interviews why she left the band, saying she was unhappy with some things in the band so she felt that maybe it was time for her to depart. Our dauntless guitarist recorded two albums with Kittie, those being the full-length Spit, in 1999, and the EP Paperdoll, in 2000, comprised of a remix of Spit’s song Paperdoll and five songs from Spit recorded live on June 15, 2000 at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden.

Regarding the writing and meaning of the song Choke in Spit, Fallon said that it is “about someone telling you that they love you so much, and they put you up on a pedestal and make you feel great, then they turn around and say “screw you”, and you can sense that feeling while listening to the song (which you can do HERE). Furthermore, just to give you an idea of the impact of the release of Spit, right after that Kittie went on tours with bands such as Chevelle, Slipknot, Suicidal Tendencies, and Shuvel, also performing at Ozzfest and at the 2001 SnoCore festival. Hence, if you want to listen to Fallon playing her flammable guitar with Kittie, I recommend the songs Brackish and Charlotte, both taken from Spit.

Right after her departure from Kittie, Fallon experienced a period of stress due to splitting up with her friends from the band, but she managed to overcome that difficult situation after a while and got involved with her two next endeavors, the distinct bands Pigface and Amphibious Assault. Pigface is an industrial music supergroup formed in 1990 by Martin Atkins (Ministry, Killing Joke) and William Rieflin (Ministry, KMFDM, R.E.M., King Crimson), featuring tons of guest musicians such as our metal babe Fallon. She ended up recording several tracks with Pigface for their 2003 album Easy Listening…, which led her to begin writing music again due to the enjoyment she had during the recording process. She then purchased a sequencer and began exploring the industrial music genre that she admired but had never actively pursued, also filling her basement in the following months with drum machines and synthesizers, which in the end led to the writing of the songs for District Six, the debut album by her upcoming industrial project Amphibious Assault, mixing lots of heavy elements and aspects with her passion for industrial music. The name of the project was chosen during a flight from Toronto to New Jersey, when Bowman, at the age of seventeen, was skimming through a Tom Clancy novel when she came upon the term “amphibious assault”, with the whole project being, according to our talented musician herself, her personal “homage” to her KMFDM days, when she was obsessed with them. Amphibious Assault went on for a few years, from 2003 until 2007, with two full-length albums released, the aforementioned District Six in 2003 and On Better Days and Sin-Eating in 2006. If you want to take a listen at this more electronic side of Fallon, I recommend you check the songs Tears In Rain, District 6, The Importance Of Finding Narcissism, Mistakes, Breaks, Way Too Lates, and Benedictine, among many others.

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After the end of Amphibious Assault, Fallon mentioned that a new project was about to become a reality, tentatively named “Oh No, Torpedo!”, but that in the end became her solo project Fallon Bowman & The Grace Dynasty (with The Grace Dynasty being a five-piece band that included Rhim of The Birthday Massacre on drums), playing a series of live shows before announcing their forthcoming debut album, titled Human, Conditional, from 2011. However, right after the recording of the album was done, it was decided that the project would drop “The Grace Dynasty” from its name, being then just known as Fallon Bowman. You can take a detailed listen at Human, Conditional at Bowman’s own BandCamp page, with songs like the title-track Human, Conditional and Rio de Janeiro being a good sample of how her latest project sounds like.

Regarding her vocal range and her skills as a musician, Fallon mentioned in one of her interviews she’s highly influenced by R&B (thanks to her sister and parents), which allows her to do more than “just” scream and yell while singing, and that she hadn’t taken any singing lesson until she left Kittie. She said that her vocal teacher taught her all sorts of essential lessons about maintaining pitch while moving, and that she incorporated those into her performances to give it a more theatrical vibe. In addition, she also mentioned the emotion she transpires during her live performances is something that just happens, it’s very organic and it arises from the same place her lyrics and pain come from. And even in the middle of that sea of emotions, Fallon has time to sharpen her playing skills, being able to play guitar, keyboards, bass and sing (and getting there in regards to the piano), all helping her become a better composer. And did you know she has a degree in archeology? Well, that’s something almost no one actually knew until she was the subject of a prank for an episode of the short-lived Animal Planet series Freak Encounters a few years ago.

Fallon’s influences in music are just as diverse as her own background, with our talented multi-instrumentalist being highly influenced by R&B when it comes to her vocal style, but of course she also draws a lot of inspiration from electronic and rock music, saying that she loves the contrast between angelic singing and harder music. In terms of names, she said her taste for music varies from Whitney Houston to Deftones, from Calvin Harris to VNV Nation to Nirvana, and so on, mentioning that there’s beauty in all types of music. When asked about a band that she would have loved to tour with from the past, she promptly mentioned Nirvana, saying that meeting Kurt Cobain would have been a mind-blowing experience and that Nirvana, alongside with Hole, were the bands that made her want to be a musician. Furthermore, Fallon still had time to create her own dream band, that being David Gahan from Depeche Mode on vocals, Danny Carey from Tool on drums, Ryan from Mudvayne on bass, and Jimi Hendrix on guitar. How awesome do you think that supergroup would sound?

When asked about all changes that have impacted the music industry since she started her career back in 1996, she said when Kittie started they had almost no focus on the internet, as there wasn’t Facebook or anything like that at that time, saying it was all about street teams made up of fans that would spread the word about each band, something that doesn’t happen anymore nowadays. Fallon has been trying to learn about new apps and platforms to promote her music, and you can find her in several places, as for example you can buy her music on BandCamp, something that didn’t exist at all in the 90’s. Well, she’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, so let’s say she has adapted to this new reality in the music business as much as her taste in music has changed and evolved, right? Well, now let’s wait and see what the future holds for this young and restless musician, hoping that she keeps “invading” all current and new types of social media sites and music apps with her uniqueness and electricity.

Fallon Bowman’s Official Facebook page
Fallon Bowman’s Official Twitter
Fallon Bowman’s Official Instagram
Fallon Bowman’s Official YouTube channel
Fallon Bowman’s Official BandCamp

“I didn’t consciously think of what I was doing as a step for me as a woman of colour – it was more simple than that – being a teenager wanting to be a rockstar. In retrospect however, no one besides maybe Skin was doing that style of music and was also a woman of colour. It’s a bit mind blowing really. There was really no one else doing that at that level.” – Fallon Bowman