Vampires and werewolves wander the streets of Bloomfield, New Jersey, the hometown of the metal-core act called the Banner. Vocalist Joey Southside’s howls alternate between terrifying and terrified, depending on whether he is the perpetrator or the victim of the horror-show violence that splatters each of the eleven narratives on Each Breath Haunted, the Banner’s second LP.
Many songs rely too heavily on straight-ahead hardcore rhythms, and that drains the blood from the ominous tension the band builds up elsewhere. But even at its least inspired, the Banner’s dual-guitar strike force is convincingly raw — the Slayer-like opening to “Devilhawks” seems to decompose as the band plays it. Placid instrumental interludes break up the intensity, but they can’t lighten the pitch-black mood. And when the whole gang chants “I sincerely hope your last breath is mine” during the amazing coda to “Venom and Hope,” it’s clear nobody’s making it out of this one alive.