Big Brave - Vital review
|Release date:||April 2021|
01. Abating The Incarnation Of Matter
02. Half Breed
03. Wited, Still And All...
04. Of This Ilk
I've seen Big Brave dubbed as "anxiety metal". Seems fitting.
Big Brave sit at a weird place in drone music, clearly inspired by both Sunn O))) and Swans, but taking that droning post-rock minimalism in quite a different direction. After a somewhat more exploratory debut with 2014's Feral Verdure, Big Brave pretty much found their sound. They've been polishing it ever since. Hence why it might be a bit of a struggle to write about Vital because I feel like pretty much everything I already wrote in my review of A Gaze Among Them stands. Well most of it.
Firstly, there aren't the same guests, obviously, but also the lineup has changed, with touring drummer Tasy Hudson joining as a full-time member. Secondly, neither the cover art not the music itself has as much of an overt life-affirming undertone. It's not like A Gaze Among Them wasn't already dark, but it feels like Vital dives even deeper. It expands the palette, but also puts even more force inside the repetitive motions. It's music that relies on building and building and building. It's something that can easily come across as boring, as is often the pitfall of drone or ambient or minimalist music in general. So the repetition has to make sense, and it has to build to something, or it has to live alongside another element. And Big Brave know that.
The element that usually goes besides the repetitive droning riffs and colossal percussion is the vulnerable vocal performance of vocalist Robin Wattie. Half of the emotional resonance of the album is reliant on just how much she manages to put her experiences to paper and to voice. In this album with some special emphasis on her experiences as a mixed-race person. But more than half of the album doesn't feature any vocals at all, completely dependent on just how engaging the instrumental play is, and how much it can use the slow-building to its advantage. It's like music exploring the space in between, often going into paths more formless than what is usually Big Brave's territory, especially on the middle piece, "Wited, Still and All...". The result is more hypnotic and heavy, despite it not going as all-out on the heaviness. It's the restraint that shows just how much power is at play here.
There's an extra layer of complexity besides the usual interplay between the droning guitars, with some more instrumentation being brought into the fold, like wind chimes, bells, and strings. They make a subtle difference, but the reason why it still sounds so effective is not just the addition of new instruments, but doing the same tricks better. Vital is just fucking heavy. It's draining, ominous, and you just feel like you have to drag an anchor listening to it. An anchor that you didn't realize before that a lot of people have to carry on a daily basis.
||Written on 01.05.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.|
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