Obey The Brave – [Album]

Tuesday, 04 September 2012

More than in any other music genre, there is a treacherously thin line between awe-inspiring and awful in the world of metal. That is the line which Obey The Brave straddles on their debut album, Young Blood; by turns, this record succeeds brilliantly as singer Alex Erian and guitarists John Campbell and Greg Wood collide and make a perfect sound which combines the crunch of metal with the atmospherics inherent to both emo and prog – but there are also those times when the band slips, misses the mark and does a pretty laughable face-plant. That would be understandable enough (every band is entitled to a few screw-ups on their first album), but the problem is that there is just no easy way to see those foibles coming because they come at the most unusual times. For example, Obey The Brave gets a pretty good head of steam behind it as the thrust supplied by Campbell, Wood and bassist Miguel Lepage fries the senses of listeners and pushes Erian's classically constipated vocal take right down their collective throat during “Lifestyle” (which opens the record), but then the movement vapor locks during “It Starts Today” when a band of synths elbows its way to the front line of the mix, reminds listeners of both emo and prog simultaneously and gives everybody heartburn.

The inability to balance style with substance is a problem which is never solved or reconciled on Young Blood.

After “Lifestyle” and “It Starts Today” set an unlikely pattern for the record, Obey The Brave just can't seem to resist following it – no matter how frustrating the results may be. For every rampaging metal exercise the band produces (see “Self Made,” which also includes a guest vocal appearance by Cancer Bats singer Liam Cormier – “Live And Learn” and “Time For A Change”), they hobble themselves with little unnecessary extra touches like the vein of goth and gang vocals which run through “Garde La Tete Froide” (which is just cheesy – every six-year-old has wanted to form a band called the Frozen Heads, and the idea sounds no better in French) and the oddball, almost dubstep-ped production of “Grim” – which go nowhere and distract from both the band and the songs here. Equally distracting is the multitude of guest vocal appearances which appear on four of Young Blood's eleven cuts. Now, the value that a well-placed guest appearance can have on a record (and the possibility of increased sales) isn't in dispute, but shouldn't a band's focus be on making a strong first impression with their first release? One might assume so, but that was clearly not Obey The Brave's focus here, and the record suffers because it's not always clear who is fronting the band.

The diffused focus that the guest appearances make on Young Blood are very recognizably the problem, which begs the obvious question of how it can be solved. The first, easiest way would be to hope that Young Blood finds an audience and boosts Obey The Brave's level of visibility in the metal market. If that happens, the band may get a little more confident in its own abilities and rely less on the help of special guests to make their next record. The first best thing that could possibly happen for Obey The Brave is that they'll be forced to stand on their own; hopefully that will happen when it comes time for the band to record their second album.



Young Blood
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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