Heavy but not metal, Big|Brave lives up to their name. They can summon a big bludgeoning sound and are brave enough to find their own path to drag it down. The album’s heaviness comes in it’s emotional bleakness that is wrapped in a bristling, angular, feedback-frayed package. Sure this album came out last year, but it went under the radar and is worth taking the trip back to November for. There is more gloom than doom, and more noise than sludge-like qualities; some times it feels like as if PJ Harvey got depressed and began jamming with Jucifer. Tempo-wise, there is an angular lingering not unlike that of True Widow. Things here are much rougher around the edges and are not draped in that western reverb. The vocals also have more enthusiasm, as the singer flexes the dynamic muscles of her vocal chords on “A song for foxes,” she drops down into more a Hope Sandoval register. Sometimes I say, you know, this band doesn’t sound like they come from the swamps of Bumfuck, Iowa; in this case, it makes perfect sense to me that this band is from Canada. There is an awkward coldness to their sound. This could have be written in a log cabin in the deep dark woods of Quebec.
The tension of the guitars on “Let Us Rest Our Dead…” unfolds into a noise-slathered clamor which rocks out too much the call them slow core. They become more aggressive on “Bigot,” pounding the chords like a Swans song. The instrumentation takes on a drugged hesitation, and could work on the sound track of a David Lynch movie, despite the vocals being very straightforward not only on this song, but throughout the album, leaving her voice to, at times, anchor the songs to the only part that’s retaining it’s sanity. The apocalyptic blues title might apply to a song like “There are No Victories.” “A Song For Marie” is just a wall of feedback and noise, serving as more of an interlude and providing a storm for the gentler vocals of “Feral Verdure” to come out of. The guitar and drums tumble into the song behind her vocals.
Leaving her voice naked for the bulk of the song, she has some emotive moments on “Feral Verdure,” but the deliberate disjointed nature of the song after the wall of noise preceding it feels like the album end could have gone out on a more climatic note, so this ending seems a little like a fizzle. This is not only forgivable, but is still balanced out by the fact that Big|Brave defies jumping on any of the current band wagons, and are brave enough to carve out their own unique place in today’s musical climate. As a full length, there are thirty three minutes of music, and there are varied interpretations of the word. In my book, this counts as an album since it’s longer than the twenty eight minutes of Reign in Blood. If you are a fan of music that wears it’s emotions on it’s noisy sleeves, then this is worth a listen or two hundred. Two hundred listens will happen faster than you realize, as this proves to be one of those albums you can let play on a loop to consume an entire rainy afternoon. I look forward to hearing where the band goes from here.