Respire's Orchestral Metal Epic 'Black Line' Is an Emotional Rollercoaster

Respire's Orchestral Metal Epic 'Black Line' Is an Emotional Rollercoaster
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If Toronto's Broken Social Scene were to ever have a metal counterpart, it would have to be Respire. The collective's combination of orchestral strings, black metal, skramz and everything else under the sun is at its best on Black Line — the most well-composed Respire album to date.

The album opens with bangers "Tempest" and "Cicatrice," offering some of the band's heaviest riffs yet, with a flurry of tremolo picking and even a breakdown section on the latter cut. No idea is off-limits, or even held onto for very long before a new element is introduced. It will take listeners many listens of this album to fully grasp all the references and nodes that Black Line has to offer.

Respire are at their best when they are at their most sonically vulnerable. "To Our Dead Friends" and "Flicker and Faint" really showcase the full band's capabilities, stretching them far beyond their genre confinements. The interweaving of indie rock and metallic moments really makes these songs the best offering from the band yet.

Black Line is an emotional rollercoaster that leaves no element untouched; it is certainly in the conversation for the most fully thought-out heavy record of 2020. (Church Road Records)