"Into The Breach"


This band is most likely sick to death of hearing this by now but there is no getting past it, Nether Regions "Into the Breach" is mostly High On Fire worship but before you put this on the "ignore" list, I must point out, this is one of the better examples of metallic, melodic sludge-metal going around. The band is also not a copy-cat band in the way that some reviews might suggest. They are generic in the sludge-metal sense but they also mix it up with passages that push into the direction of bands such as Om and Neurosis so you can never say they are too predictable. 'Into The Breach' is an album that is impossible to hate but it is also pretty hard to get excited about. The riffs are good but there is not one riff on this album that left me floored and while this is an easy album to kick back to and head-bang to, it lacks the "memorable" quality to put it above anything else that has been released in the name of sludge-metal in the last 10 years.

One thing that seems a little perplexing to me is during the first half of the album, the band seem to be stuck in second gear and just treading water. It is not till tracks 5 and 6 before the album seems to kick into high gear. The opening trio of songs; 'Into the Breach/Spanish Werewolves, ' 'Do You Live' and 'Your Name Is Madness' all have some very heavy-duty riffage, some very flashy drumming and Matt Pike-ish intensity but they all come and go without leaving a lasting memory. They are songs where you think, well ,this is kicking ass and real heavy but where is the spark and where is that vital ingredient that makes me want to listen to this again and again? The fault is not in the musicianship because the playing on 'Into The Breach' is excellent and they even have jazzy breaks which are at least something different. One of the recurring features that the album has (for better or worse) is a lack of vocals. Passages of music go on for minutes sometimes without any vocals which isn't a problem usually but in this case, it often feels like it is missing.

When you get to the tracks 'Pale Faced God,' 'Blood Ritual' and 'Alpha/Omega' the album finally begins to pick up steam and everything seems to come together for the better. 'Pale Faced God' has moments of classic 70's rock guitar wizardry and 'Alpha/Omega' has infectious grooves up the ying-yang and is truly the first real memorable tune on the album. Sadly it is really the only memorable track the album has to offer and all the other tracks seem to fly by in mediocre fashion. 'A City Far Enough Away' is atmospheric but stock by sludge-metal standards but the closing mini-epic 'Outrun the Sun' ends the album on a high-note. This track may not be the most exciting piece of sludge you have ever heard but at least the band seem to be firing on all cylinders by this late stage of the disc.

The production on this album is a bit raw and rough but it seems to enhance the songs for the most part so despite its faults can't really be criticized. The songs are mostly an interesting melting pot of different tempos, metallic chest-bashing and cleaner, more ambient post-rock moments but it is hard to remember anything much from this album once it is over and done with. The album is about as solid as anything else in the sludge-metal genre but lacks that key element to take it to the next level. Nether Regions have successfully married the sounds of High On Fire and Neurosis but with the first half of the album having a "going through the motions" kind of vibe, it all seems underdone and unremarkable. At its best, 'Into The Breach' is up there with the best of them but those high points are all too rare to raise this anywhere above "average." ......7/10.