REVIEW: Promise Breaker – Televiolence [2019]

Artist: Promise Breaker

Album: Televiolence


Since the mid 2000s, there has been a monumental push from organizations—largely organizations run by bible-thumping parents and antiquated teaching staff—to reduce the amount of “violence” absorbed by adolescents through video games, music and movies. It makes sense, really, it would stand to reason that less violent culture would breed less violent individuals. Now, there’s a whole essay that can be written with a concomitant debate topic that can be discussed about whether violent video games are worth banning, or whether its lack of parental foresight and judgement that gets these games into the hands of kids too young or too mentally immature—it’s a big topic, and I’m not here to debate it.

Because the point is that it doesn’t matter.

Within ten minutes of any local newscast, a 10 year old kid can see more stabbing, shooting, profanity or sexual misconduct than they might see in thirty minutes of a PUBG or Blackout game. That’s the world we live in. That’s the United States of America in 2019—it isn’t just games and music that’s violent, it’s the whole world and the conduit through which we view it—giving rise to Televiolence. Now, whether or not that is the impetus for the chaotic hardcore/mathcore outfit Promise Breaker’s 2019 full-length record isn’t the point—what is the point is how ludicrous and intense Televiolence manages to be. One half hour of pummeling breakdowns, jarring riffs and spastic sequences of carefully organized noise, Promise Breaker’s latest effort is a ruthless display of chaos at its finest, capturing everything from catchy, funky undertones to overt brutality in one fell swoop.

Instrumentally, Televiolence—well not even instrumentally, Hell, All of Televiolence—sounds like a contemporary System of a Down with bigger nuts and heavier writing. From the first spastic seconds of the record, Promise Breaker leap out at the listener swinging with reckless abandon. Songs like “Late Nite” and “Fantasties” are nothing short of insane, bewildering the listener with jarring, crushing blast beats and riffs hot enough to melt steel beams. Meanwhile, “Bile Pile” is brutal by definition, hitting the listener with a sequence of slams that could send sasquatch back on his ass. Then, there are the off-the-wall moments where “Counting” or “Under the Digital Sun” include off-the-wall punk and somewhat funky elements to their dynamic to keep the listener guessing as to just what the fuck is really going on? Pardon the profanity—I’m aware it’s unprofessional—but when you do get around to listening to Televiolence, you’ll understand exactly why it’s warranted. Promise Breaker have made masterful, go-for-the-throat, slice-till-you-bleed metalcore-turned-mathcore-turned-alt-something on Televiolence, and between the frantic drumming, furious fretwork and bouncy, booming bass, it’s honestly hard to do it justice with words.

This same element of confusion (but loving every second of it) holds true for the band’s vocal element. With some very SOAD-like segments spacing out the moments of raw, throat-peeling insanity, Promise Breaker’s vocal element is as diverse as their musicianship. “Thing” is an excellent example, just as “Brand New Pain” is—and really, each track on Televiolence is. While some songs—especially over the middle third of the record—don’t do as strong a job at keeping the listener as immersed with vocal prowess, there is still no denying that there is no band that does what Promise Breaker have done or are doing, and that is just as true of their vocal element as it is of anything else. “Late Nite” sees Promise Breaker’s vocals hitting highs and lows effortlessly, as does the album-opening title number, while the mid-half is much more experimental in nature and the back portion is straight aggression without filter; in this respect, even during the less mesmerizing moments, Promise Breaker refuse to relent.

Televiolence is a wild record. There isn’t much like it—at least not much from this decade—and what’s “close” isn’t even really that close. Imagine taking the likes of HeavyHeavyLowLow and System of a Down and tossing them in a blender operated by the frontman of KoRn. Getting the picture? No—not really—because that doesn’t do it justice, but suffice it to say that no matter what, Televiolence is a record you absolutely NEED to experience.



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By: Connor Welsh