REVIEW: Cetacean - Breach | Submerge


Once upon a time, bands like Neurosis, Yob, even early Mastodon, set the bar for what what was expected from metal. Everything was percussive, blunt, and heavy-handed - an evolution of noise rock bands, maybe even grunge. Though you could say that the popularity of most of these groups sort of caused an inversion of sorts. Most, like Mastodon, went on to experiment more freely with their style, while others just faded into obscurity, or just stuck to what they were doing, failing to grow their respective audiences. Bands like this do still pop up, and while none of them are bad, I've yet to experience any that capture the sheer diversity of Cetacean.

Breach | Submerge is all about aggression; sudden and invasive. This isn't wholly new by any means but Cetacean differs by paving the way, twisting a suddenly, calm, landscape of sound into one of desperation and anger. Rather than draw upon the more modern poppy progression of bands like Haken or the Devin Townsend Project, Cetacean connects its aggression with more rooted ambient styles similar to those of Pink Floyd, or even Ihsahn (of Emperor fame). Clean sections are abundant, but include a more fusion-esque style that involves even Saxophone to keep things where they should be, and ultimately make the main sections of Breach | Submerge more effective.


At its center, Breach | Submerge is wholly a love-letter to Neurosis. Everything from the vocal style, to the song-writing, reflects this. And, though Cetacean is the best of the best when it comes to an imitation, I couldn't help but feel that things didn't always push far away from that sort of distinction. Certainly, the band pulls through with its own additions and, to me, is almost more enjoyable then it's influence, but there will be those who won't be able to escape the obvious comparison. Sadly, I also feel that Cetacean's sound is too concerned with mixing known influences rather than finding its own identity.

Cetacean does enough to be different but still remains all-too familiar, and despite everything there is to like, it's always a piece of something else that has come before. Breach | Submerge is great, a monumental piece of song-writing and diversity, and should still be experienced despite its flaws.