In this fifth effort by the Canadian band, we see Big | Brave bring their signature sound, now as cohesive as ever, to new heights. On Vital, lead singer and guitarist Robin Wattie reflects upon “navigating the outside world in a racialised body and what it does to the psyche as a whole while exploring individual worth within this reality” through the span of five tracks, each and every one of them as lyrically haunting as the next. Instrumentally, the songs translate perfectly the weight of their conceptual content, carried mostly by pummelling drum beats supporting hypnotic riffs reminiscent of a Glowing Man-era Swans, feedbacking guitars akin to labelmates Sunn O))) and most importantly on this record, silence.
Silence or an almost silent instrumentation is one of the stronger ingredients in crafting these songs, borrowing from the classic jazz adage that “it’s the notes they’re not playing” which have the most impact. The most beautiful point of this album, where it exposes its content as naked as it can be, is the end of the second track, ‘Half Breed’, where Robin’s voice almost echoes through our skulls repeating the mantra “The pattern for”, which is the beginning of the excerpt from How To Write An Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee used as lyrics on this song.
With this new album, Big | Brave reiterate the mastery with which they have been crafting all their albums, bringing to the table one of the most cathartic releases in recent years.
Vital is out via Southern Lord digitally and on CD on 23/04/2021, with LP released on 09/07/2021, and can be ordered here.
Words: Benjamim Gomes