Reach 454

Reach 454

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Reach 454 throws its heavy hat into the alt-metal mix with its self-titled debut for Lava/Atlantic. Producer and mixer Jay Baumgardner has processed the band's post-hardcore/heavy alternative sound to the point of no return, with almost every one of the album's 12 songs employing an identical formula. It's a simple one. A ragged, distorted guitar introduces the track's lead riff, and is joined by the rest of the band's impenetrable wall of muddy, almost tuneless sludge. Vocalist Rene Mata seems to have some valid issues to get off his chest, but nothing is articulated beyond buzzwords. "Father," "close your eyes," "breath," "how can I go on?" -- there may be real catharsis in Mata's scratchy vocal cords, but there is nothing to separate his problems from those sung about by his peers in Godsmack, Saliva, and the like. Reach 454 also obviously has the chops to rock -- ex-Sick of It All bassist Rich Cipriano switches to guitar here, and is supported by bassist Dan Martinez and ex-dayinthelife drummer John Kamoosi. But the band's riffing is marginalized by production that sacrifices creativity for convention. It's only when Reach can latch onto a strong melody that the band rises above average. While it sticks faithfully to the album's formula during its verses, "Stay With Me" does open up with a flawless bridge, which in turn soars into an undeniable chorus. "Won't you stay with me, and be yourself?" Mata sings, and the hint of sunlight offered by the melody and lyrics is a welcome respite from the album's resounding heavy metal thunder.

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