With Vital, BIG|BRAVE proves it is an elastic and dynamic band, uncompromising in its sound and vision.

Doom metal, drone, sludge rock — while all very applicable genres and categories — don’t do Montréal trio BIG|BRAVE any favours. For one thing, they box in expectations, turning away potential listeners and fans who might otherwise find the inherent beauty in their vociferous sound. Even though the band’s latest album, Vital, continues their hallmark of heavy guitar sound and pummeling percussion, they find a way to infuse it with the soul of folk’s simplicity and an emotional range that’s deeply compelling for those who wouldn’t normally gravitate to their turned-up-to-11 wall of sound.

 Guitarist and vocalist Robin Wattie delivers riveting performances throughout, but especially noteworthy is the note-heavy gymnastic routine on “Half Breed,” a song about finding yourself in between worlds and cultures. Wattie conveys a range of emotions and states of mind through her howls and screams when other vocalists might get locked into anger, venom, and rage. Never a band to shy away from shattering the three-minute mark, Vital’s extended compositions give Wattie, guitarist Mathieu Ball, and drummer Tasy Hudson space and freedom to build tension and release, allowing the music to find its natural ebb and flow as it does on “Abating the Incarnation of Matter.”

Still, for those typically lacking the patience or fortitude for five-minute-plus bouts of guitar pugilism, BIG|BRAVE are incredibly efficient and effective musicians. Motifs repeat but never feel redundant. Even as the title track and “Of This Ilk” reach the ten-minute mark, it’s clear that BIG|BRAVE is an elastic and dynamic band, uncompromising in its sound and vision. Whatever expectations you may have going into Vital, BIG|BRAVE will surely shatter them along with your eardrums.

Checkmate EP