Hailing from New York, Reach 454 is a rock band gaining popularity quickly around the area, playing along with established acts like Evanescence and Powerman 5000. Reach 454's new self titled album hopes to expand their popularity to a wider audience into the hard rock genre.
The first two songs ("New Scar (Won't Be Like You)," and "Stay With Me") are almost mirror images, musically speaking. The lyrics do little to help the bland sound from the first two tracks, and what makes it worse is that the band tries to create a catchy chorus on each song, especially on the second track, but the timing and key is all wrong, creating a bland chorus that falls flat on it's face. The vocals as a whole seem too flat to really stir any reaction in the listener. On the third track, "Wake Up", things get a bit better. The head-banging riff is complemented by a pretty catchy chorus, and the vocals are somewhat improved from the first two songs. It's nothing original, but the kind of song that you'd love to listen to when you're pissed off.
Things slow down on "In Your Arms", an interesting song considering that the band is more toward hard rock than this slow kind of song. The riff slowly picks up, and the chorus is extremely catchy, and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch if this song was a single for the album. The vocals are still somewhat bland on the verses, but change tone and volume very nicely during the chorus. This slower hard rock song still rocks, but has a lot more appeal to it than some of the generic hard rock songs they churn out. Things pick back up with "California", which kicks off with wailing guitars, and uses nice strumming on the acoustic guitar during the verses. The song switches gears almost instantly during the chorus, which ruins it. The change in tone of the song doesn't flow well, and instead seems forced. Still, this song has some of the strongest verses on the album. Lyrically, the song is a little better than most on the album, but still falls somewhat flat.
Hard rock riffs rip through the next song, beginning with a mellow intro that you know will explode in seconds. The riffs and vocals sound something reminiscent of a Godsmack song. The song is only fun when it goes crazy, but the verses are especially boring because of the weak lyrics and delivery. The band just tries to hard to give the song a point, when listeners won't really find the verses too entertaining. Things slow down once again on "Until the Day I Die", but once again the song has a shift in key and tempo during the chorus, which feels more forced than natural. The chorus begins off catchy, but once again seems to suffer because the band just keeps going off in different directions with the song. While some bands prosper from a song without real direction, Reach uses a solid song structure and then goes off in different directions, which doesn't work too well.
"Follow You Down" is a simple song lyrics and music wise, but works surprisingly well. The elements incorporated to the song are subtle and help it along pretty well. The chorus is simplistic, but works great as well. The last four songs are pretty decent, but still fall from the same faults that plague this album.
Reach 454's self-titled album shows a sincere try by the band to escape the glut of generic hard rock bands, but they too fall into the trap with repetitive riffs, weak songwriting, and bland execution. While some songs are sharp and great to listen to, and while the whole album is pretty strong musically, Reach has a lot of room for improvement. A few songs here are good, but the rest fall flat as generic hard rock songs.
V P is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.