Cetacean – Breach|Submerge
(Apes Who Looked Up)
Cetacean is a post-metal band from Los Angeles. Taking their name from the clade that comprises dolphins and whales, the title of their debut, Breach | Submerge, release serves not only as a nod to the majestic nature of the animals that inspired their name, but can also be seen as an analogy for the “quiet-to-loud” nature of their music. Ranging from down right monolithic riffing to elegantly layered ambience, Cetacean’s music falls into many parts of the spectrum that is human emotion. The way the album starts reminds me of a prelude, touching on many themes that will be present in the rest of the music. As soon as the record starts you’re met with gentle cymbal washes and soft, harmonically unstable guitar playing that sounds like a primordial soup. Soon after the rest of the band starts running through various jazz harmonies as someone takes a smooth af sax solo. Unfortunately this is the only time on the record that the saxophone shows up. The rest of the record displays the band’s ability to easily weave together the heavy riffing of sludge metal and post-hardcore with soft, introspective instrumental passages that breath melancholy.
One thing I really like that Cetacean does is incorporate many different vocal approaches. Their main vocalist does a great job of varying his screaming techniques from a standard post-metal yell, to deep gutturals, and higher pitched screams for sections that the band goes slightly black metal with blast beats. Another great thing they do is layer wordless, ethereal singing on top of the music, which juxtaposes nicely with the darker moments of the music. Cetacean really shines in the way their music come from dark trudges and blossoms into something very powerful and majestic. The album retains a consistent theme but each song has it’s own unique form, which definitely aids in making the record an engaging experience. Overall I’d say Cetacean whipped up a very refreshing take to post-metal that breaks convention without sounding forced or contrived. I can’t wait to hear what direction the band goes in next.