REVIEW: Breakdown of Sanity – Perception [2013]


Artist: Breakdown of Sanity

Album: Perception


How do you look at the world? It’s an undeniable fact of living—everyone has a different viewpoint, or differing perceptions, if you will, on the world and the time they spend in it. Everyone’s vantage points vary, and as such, everyone’s time on earth is different. So what about you? What experiences, memories, trials and tribulations do you have on this rock that define your life and make you really you? If you’ve never stopped and ruminated on that, listening to Breakdown of Sanity’s follow-up to 2011’s Mirrors will force you to do so. Perception is a nearly hour-long meditative experience which aptly encapsulates the sum of the listener’s memories and experiences throughout their life—from jarring, intense heaviness to smooth, serene emotion (and even some of the less-memorable parts in between). Indeed, Perception is just that—a collection of moments and experiences that create a living, breathing album that ebbs and flows in time with the listener’s life.

Do you remember the first time you were truly enraged? The first time you saw red—felt hot blood pulse through your veins and up into your temples? That seemingly limitless wellspring of aggression and anger that made you feel like you could topple mountains and fill canyons with hatred. Those same moments can be found staggered throughout Perception—in the form of intense, lumbering, yet dynamic breakdowns which pile drive the listener into submission. Splashy, crashing cymbals collide against jarring (or dare I say djarring) downtuned guitar and booming, rumbling bass to shatter the listener’s spine and spill their blood. “Crumble” is one track that does just that—attacking the listener so fiercely it forces their bones down to dust and their sanity to wither and shrink away. Likewise, the opening section of “Cardiac Silhouette” cut quickly and deeply into the listener’s skin before burning their wounds closed with a series of trudging, plodding breakdowns that inflict a slow, languishing burn. Throughout every isolated moment of perfectly-calculated heaviness on Perception, there is visceral, animated bitterness—present most commonly in the form of intense, but varied, vocal work which provides a human element to the otherwise mechanical chugging and churning of the instrumentation. This human element is what reaches out and relates to the listener, allowing Breakdown of Sanity’s Perception and their own perception to truly become as one.

How about the first kiss you had? Or the first time you held the hands of the love of your life—feeling their life-force throb gently within yours? For those moments, Breakdown of Sanity has an element just an intense—if not at the opposite end of the spectrum—as their rampaging heaviness; atmosphere and emotion. Perception is laden with moments that cut through the dense, suffocating brutality like a jackhammer through cement, creating an ethereal feeling of complete atmospheric immersion. To a degree, “Chapters” does this brilliantly. While at no point does the track reach the same levels of smoothness and serenity that “Perceptions”—the album’s self-titled interlude—does, it incorporates Volumes-esque shred-heavy ambience which wraps the listener in warm, soothing comfort. Likewise, the closing portion of “Cardiac Silhouette,” along with “The Gift” make stellar use of over-the-top levels of calming, atmospheric elements via the abundance of clean, crystal-clear fretwork and splashy, bouncy percussion.

But what about moments in your life which are neither serene and dream like or infuriating and bitter? Those moments which—for lack of a better term—simply aren’t memorable? Unfortunately for Breakdown of Sanity, Perception suffers these elements as well—a continuation of a sickness that plagued Mirrors, albeit to a greater degree. Where many moments—the duration of “Cardiac Silhouette,” or “Crumble,” for example—are rich with instrumentation and vocal threnodies that beg to stay stuck in your head for days, there are portions of Perception that simply fall flat. In fact, were it not for the out-of-nowhere serenity of “Perception,” it would be difficult to tell just how far along the listener was in the album, as many of the tracks reiterate the same tactics of chugged-and-shred assault without much variation. In a way, however, this serves to Breakdown of Sanity’s advantage—because so much of what defines life is the filler that breaks up the moments of true, limitless awe that the listener makes into memories. True enough, while the listener might not be able to distinguish “Scissorhands” from “Blind” after each respective track is finished, while those songs are going, the listener is completely engaged in them—wrapped up in the experience that each song provides.

Perception is as if an immense canvas painted with a portrayal of the listener’s life. To look at it from afar means only the great, noteworthy details make themselves known—leaving plenty of room for the eye to become lost or unamused. However, a careful examination shows the masterful strokes of Breakdown of Sanity’s brush—a brush which depicts life on this planet in all it’s glory—even if it means accepting some of the less-than-memorable moments that come along with it.



For Fans Of: Volumes, August Burns Red, Buried in Verona

By: Connor Welsh