AlbumsFebruary 24, 20231,127 views

Big|Brave nature morte

1. carvers, farriers and knaves 2. the one who bornes a weary load 3. my hope renders me a fool 4. the fable of subjugation 5. a parable of the trusting 6. the ten of swords
2023 Thrill Jockey Records
Our score 8

by Jake

Canadian post-metal trio Big|Brave have been making a name for themselves since their debut album, Feral Verdure. Blending drone, sludge, and post-metal, the band have created a dynamically charged sound by focusing on the emotional side of their signature sound. After some genuinely great albums in recent years, they’re back with nature morte, and it takes exactly zero seconds for Big|Brave to get heavy on this thing. The first notes of “carvers, farriers and knaves” ring in at the start of the album and it becomes immediately apparent that this is going to be a record that isn’t shying away from heft.


As with all doom and doom-adjacent music, the songs need to be written especially well. Not only because they tend to stick around longer, but the space between the notes needs to be felt just as strongly as each lyric and riff. This is something that Big|Brave excels at. Their songwriting has always been punchy, emotive, and dynamic, and that’s no different on nature morte. Robin Wattie’s vocals are tortured and often crack and pop to great effect as the rhythm section and guitars crunch alongside the raspily delivered lyrics. With every element of the band being tuned to deliver a punch to the ears and mind, one has to expect the songs to be constructed to maximize this congruence, and as nature morte unfolds, it becomes clear that’s exactly what this band has done. 

Big|Brave aren’t new to constructing this kind of record after a decade of writing and releasing music, but assembling an album of this weight with balance and the appropriate amount of respite is a tough needle to thread. With the six songs on nature morte - each with varying length - the mood can go from desperate to reflective, and each time the atmosphere shifts, proper space is given to allow for the change to be effective. The movement from “the one who bornes a weary load” to “the fable of subjugation” would be too drastic without the connective tissue of the instrumental “my hope renders me a fool.” Tension builds and releases only to be built back stronger. The drums crash while the hum and hiss of the bass plays along and guitar feedback and noise, and it all builds and builds until the pressure dissipates, leaving hollow silence behind.

One thing to expect with a band like Big|Brave, and music like this in general, is that this isn’t something to be thrown on while at the gym or for as a soundtrack to a nice drive. That is, unless you’re into that sort of thing. This is a heavy album that needs the right setting to be enjoyed and effective. This is gray-skies-and-rain kind of music that often feels oppressive, noisy, and strained. While that’s not a criticism, it can limit when and where this album will fit into a listener’s schedule. This is, of course, part-and-parcel of this kind of music in general, but it's worth pointing out.

Bottom Line: While mesmerizing and dynamic, the key takeaways from nature morte are the moments between; the negative space. These all-important gaps allow the heavy moments to hit even harder, and while there’s no objective measurement for how heavy music can be, this album is maxing out whatever rating can be assigned. This is a coherent record where each hypnotic thud, each crash of the cymbals, and every lyric wailed into the cacophony feels finely tuned to hit and hit hard. It’s incredible to think that this is the work of three musicians. At this point it's difficult to determine where this will rank in the band's library, but it should settle nicely near the top.


Post Comment
Be the first to comment