Oh metalcore. The fusion genre might not have its foundations rooted in experimentation or variety but, having most certainly reached the peak of its commercial success a few years back, its critical appreciation has also gradually faded through the sheer erosion of metalcore’s constant onslaught. In its divisive universe, even the subgenre of punk’s (or sometimes metal, the border is often shady at this point) toughest critic can sometimes appreciate what a band are doing right. In the case of metalcore, doing things right involves following a short set of rules: play hard, scream loud and BREAKDOWNS.
Enter Canadians Mr. Erian (formerly of Despised Icon), Mr. Lepage (formerly of Blind Witness), Mr. Campbell, Mr. Wood and Mr. Morotti. Together, this congregation of men form Obey The Brave and they release a debut called ‘Young Blood’. The quintet make it fairly clear from opener ‘Lifestyle’ where they fit on the sonic spectrum: mid-tempo groove-laden riffs, low-pitched growl vocals sometimes accompanied by enthusiastic friends and as much heaviness as the sound space will allow. To be as clear as possible, the band’s style wavers very little over the course of the album, some might consider it tiresome after a while, some will relish its comfortable repetitiveness.
A couple of songs, however, do manage to stand out within the uniformism. ‘Live And Learn’ powers forward at a higher tempo than some of the album’s sludgier offerings and introduces a flirtation with melodic hardcore. The latter sections are nicely fit into the arrangement, serving as both a catchy moment to breathe as well as a contrast with the heaviest breakdowns to follow. ‘Get Real’ is, arguably, one of the heaviest tracks on ‘Young Blood’ and virtually plunges into the endless depths of hell to find the dirtiest riffs and the most absurdly violent beatdowns possible. There’s even another touch of that melody.
‘Early Graves’ is a relentless track, and another that makes use of a pace a notch above the rest. Closer to punk, it sprints like a speeding train towards the inevitable lunge, my chosen allegory for the track’s similarly inevitable breakdown. Obey The Brave are ‘Young Blood’, though they have two members experienced in the ways of deathcore, but they also very much tread a way that was paved long ago and trodden many times. There’s enough bite to back up the bark here though and credit is due to their commitment to reaping the souls of their listeners. Oh, ‘Burning Bridges’ has a lovely clean chorus too.
‘Young Blood’ by Obey The Brave is out now on Epitaph Records.
Words by James Berclaz-Lewis (@swissbearclaw)