For Fans Of
Oh, metalcore. I should never get my hopes up, that must be it. It’s my fault, really, for expecting something, anything that is different. With every new metalcore release, my faith in my once-favourite genre fades further and further. With every new release in this oversaturated style, we sink further and further from salvation, and The Brave are just the latest in the long line of empirical evidence to support that claim.
‘Epoch‘ is a fairly predictable record. If I told you, right now, that the whole album is basically Northlane-meets-Bring Me The Horizon, you will immediately know what to expect. There is precious little outside of that description, save for the haunting quasi-ballad, ‘1945‘. Now that you more or less know what it sounds like, let’s have a look at a couple of huge flaws that really detract from the overall experience.
Firstly, singer Nate Toussaint’s voice. His screams are perfect for the style, absolutely no qualms there whatsoever. His pushed chest voice, however, is a completely different story altogether. Drawing on the current trend of using Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington as a role model, many vocalists are utilising this particular vocal style with increasing frequency, and unfortunately, this is subject to the law of diminishing returns. Sam Carter, Adrian Fitipaldes, Oli Sykes are but a few of the literal hundreds, if not thousands, of vocalists who have brought this technique to the fore over the last near-decade. The only problem is, especially in Nate Toussaint’s case, the margin for error is very fine, and due to the nature of the technique, it is also incredibly difficult to fix in post. If you don’t nail it, it can be really, really difficult to hide. This is particularly evident over a number of tracks on ‘Epoch‘, where Toussaint shoots for certain notes, or more regularly aims for a particular vocal run, and the strain that he’s putting his chest voice under flat out refuses to let him achieve it.
Hell, I’m not the only one to notice this, either, with several of my peers noting this particular flaw in his technique. The problem seems to be that he is distorting his chest voice with strain, rather than pitching his screams, which is a far more malleable approach.
Secondly, some of the songs are a little too reminiscent of Bring Me The Horizon for my palate. A little influence is fine, but when you can actually sing the chorus of ‘Sleepwalking‘ over the appropriate section of ‘Undone‘, you’ve probably gone a little far. The pre-chorus in ‘Searchlights‘ is another very suspect homage, but I’m almost willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Another thing that isn’t at all endearing me to them, is the lyrics. Oh boy.
I’m going to take the moral high road and refrain from criticising ‘Searchlights‘ – written about the vocalist’s cousin – and ‘1945‘, inspired by WWII, but the rest of the album is really difficult to overlook, lyrically. I try to enjoy things for what they are, but jeez you make it hard with lines like ‘Lost in this prison left to waste away, my mind wanders to dream waiting for that glimmer of hope, to one day lead me to the oceans edge. I want to feel it’s warm embrace. Please don’t ever let go‘.
Yo, The Amity Affliction called, like two years ago. Don’t worry about returning the lyrics, even they don’t want them back.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some light here. ‘Searchlights‘ would be, without the questionable timbre of Toussaint’s pushed chest, an absolute banger. The chorus is fantastic, and given I have a fair amount of experience with producer/engineer Sonny Truelove’s work, I’m strongly suspecting his guidance has helped this song in particular. ‘Ignited Youth‘ is a great track. It’s energetic, relentless, and even though it really has only one proper hook, it’s a good’un. Toussaint relies on his pitched screams to carry the song, as opposed to his inherently flawed pushed chest voice, and it is a noticeably more effective approach. ‘Dreamless‘ is better than most of the tracks on Northlane’s ‘Node‘, and also features their vocalist, Marcus Bridge, although that’s not really saying much. Closing track ‘Slipping Away‘ is also of a similar quality, albeit coming too late into the game to fix the issues that ‘Epoch‘ has as a whole.
‘Epoch’ isn’t a horrible album, but it certainly isn’t great. I’ll admit I was legitimately surprised when UNFD signed The Brave, and after listening to ‘Epoch’ a whole bunch of times, I’m still nonplussed. I’m not really hearing anything out of the ordinary, or anything of exceptional promise. I’m hearing some great production, and Sonny’s clear influence shining through, and that’s about it. That being said, there’s a handful of decent songs that I wouldn’t be averse to listening to again, so I guess all isn’t lost. Which is more than I can say for Nate’s voice if he doesn’t do something about that pushed chest technique soon!
- Break Free
- Dreamless (ft. Marcus Bridge)
- Ignited Youth
- Slipping Away