Review Summary: Swiss cyber-metallers Breach The Void deliver a surprisingly solid and impressive debut.
Honestly, I'm not too knowledgeable in the field of cyber-metal. I've heard a few songs off of Sybreed's "Antares" album and the entirety of their "The Pulse of Awakening" album, which I enjoyed but found lacking. I've also heard Meshuggah, which touches on some aspects of cyber-metal. That being said, Breach The Void's debut "The Monochromatic Era" contains similar aspects to Sybreed's latest outing: screamed and clean vocals, tight rhythmic section, mechanical and crushing guitarwork, and a cold defining synth.
The first thing that struck me about Breach The Void's album is the overall togetherness of the instrumentals. With the opening cut "Propagate", it becomes clear that drummer Alex Anxionna (formerly of Sybreed, speaking of which), guitarist Frederic de Cecco, and bassist Fabian Ferraglia have an uncanny ability to create complex and crushing grooves that are accomplished with an impressive unison unheard of in much metal. The guitars are fast (air-guitaring to this stuff is exhausting), the synth is cold, the bass is unheard (big surprise), and the drumming is complex and crisp, particularly the double-bass. The combination creates a dense and cold atmosphere that sounds melancholy and yet fun to listen to.
Another thing worth mentioning is the step-by-step accessibility of the album. Although "Propagate" serves as a good opener to the album, it is not as rhythmically complex or powerful as later cuts. When "Subversive Mind" kicks in, we're introduced to vocal harmonies and the more complex drumming. One of the highlights of this track and of the album is the galloping and crushing breakdown at 2:32. However, when "Customized Genotype" hits, the standard for the following tracks is set. With a stronger synth influence and more complex rhythms, it creates a deeper and more profound image of a futuristic yet decaying city. The djenty breakdown also finds its place here, as well as in later cuts such as "Falling", "Digital Structures", and "Spirals." Each of these is very well-done and is enough to make any djentleman scream like a little girl. With joy.
Unfortunately, the standard set by aforementioned songs is let down by a set of songs starting with "Digital Structure" and ending with "Ruins", which lives up to the standard in its second half with its solo and complex rhythms. The songs in this set slow things down and seem less inspired than earlier cuts. Thankfully, "Spirals" picks up speed and lives up to its predecessors. "System Failure" is a beautiful way to end the album, with samples of choir music and clean open chords.
As aforementioned, musically this album is very enjoyable. Vocally, the album is a fairly rougher ride. Vocalist Marko Romero is a good vocalist, with a decent range and a good singing voice (certainly more accessible than Sybreed's Benjamin Nominet). Romero utilizes a more hardcore shout, not unlike Daniel Tompkin of Tesseract fame. Although not a bad vocalist, his voice is almost a strange addition to such an elegant and polished musical ride.
Speaking of inconsistency, the Breach The Void's lyrics are something of an issue. I have no problem with language in the lyrics, especially in the metal scene, but dropping the f-bomb in lyrics regarding futuristic decay and the rise of technology doesn't seem to fit together. Take a look at "Digital Structure": "Aggression is taking over our captivated bodies. I'll f**k your system. Neglected your thoughts to dominate my own." Or "EC-10": "I cannot see my own f**king immortality. Frustration of something I cannot see." It does not seem to work very well.
Overall, Breach The Void has crafted an incredibly solid and enjoyable album. While it does not contain much finger-callousing technicality, it still has a good amount of tight rhythmic musicianship. Recommended for fans of djent, cyber-metal or even fans of melodic death metal.