nature morte 

Thrill Jockey Records • 2023

On nature morte, BIG|BRAVE defies the standards of heavy music and explores the dangers of love suffocated by toxic masculinity.

With a masterful command of both silence and chaos, BIG|BRAVE vividly portrays the profound disquiet that ensues in the aftermath of catastrophe on nature morte. Foreboding and guttural, their 2023 record is a deliciously expressive funeral hymn. It thrusts us into the harsh realities of existence, navigating seamlessly between authoritative strength, delicate vulnerability, and quiet unease.

From the onset, nature morte wastes no time. Robin Wattie’s heavy wails, intertwined with the crushing wall of sound from guitarist Mathieu Ball and drummer Tasy Hudson on the opener, “carvers, farriers and knaves,” set the stage for the dark journey ahead. Wattie’s voice soars to the refrain, “Hacking and cutting away / Hacking and butchering away,” while the metal-inspired instrumentation anchors BIG|BRAVE firmly in the earth. Grief permeates Wattie’s gasps for breath between howls, creating a visceral listening experience.

Conceptually, nature morte exposes the uncomfortable truths we’d rather turn away from, offering no answers but a constant sense of impending doom. The nine-minute epic, “the one who bornes a weary load,” delves into the fatigue of living in a patriarchal, capitalistic world that exploits and demeans women. Wattie confronts the ugliness, lamenting, “Left lame and vacant, with a vile sense of self / Until time without end, I’ll be carved from ruin. / Because I have this kind of form, it happened to me.”

A brief instrumental respite in “my hope renders me a fool” provides a momentary break for the exhausted ear before plunging back into two nine-minute songs and the album’s closure. Textural, distorted guitars meld with bouldering percussion, creating a dense and evocative atmosphere.

The aggressive sound of nature morte symbolizes the brutality of misogyny, racism, and similar ideologies. In “the fable of subjugation,” Wattie exposes the lies some men tell to manipulate and sustain the systems of power that benefit them.

Continuing Conversations

Mathieu Bernard Ball of BIG|BRAVE goes 20 or 20, digging back through the ten years of making music as a band, the life of touring, and their record, natue morte.


The penultimate track, “a parable of the trusting,” testifies to the enduring impact of trauma on the mind, body, and spirit. It reflects on how oppressed people are expected to conceal their pain to placate their oppressors, with Wattie singing, “Born from this manic coveting is a body of self-loathing.”

Nature morte challenges us to question who we can trust in the face of betrayal and why communities often fall short of holding abusers accountable. As survivors, how can we find peace? After mourning our younger selves, who must we become to endure? Can we make peace with this transformation?

Suspending the listener in moments of mourning, nature morte implores us to acknowledge pain often overlooked and discern our roles in perpetuating harmful interpersonal dynamics.

For an album exploring figurative death and misogyny, the anguish it conveys is strikingly alive. It acts as an alarmingly punishing sensory assault, admonishing our ignorance while appealing to our humanity. At its core, behind all the pain, lies a profound yearning for a fairer future.

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Cedric Noel