Montreal metalcore band Obey the Brave isn’t a group that plays things close to the chest. On the SoundCloud page for their fourth LP, Balance, there’s a short disclaimer for all potential listeners: “Not trying to reinvent the wheel. We keep it simple. We keep it real.” Say what you want about the metalcore trio, whose previous projects include deathcore band Despised Icon, but at least they’re honest.
The compositions here are appropriately weighty and hard-hitting while still managing to lack any true surprises. If you’re a metalcore fan, you have probably heard most of these guitar riffs at least once before.
Meanwhile, vocalist Alex Erian’s manages to seamlessly bridge the gap between growled, snarling vocals and more melodic choruses on songs like the penultimate track “Seeing Red.” While the tough-guy shtick that has attached itself to so much metalcore is still here in full-force, Erian and the rest of the band mixes up the formula enough that it avoids becoming a repetitive slog. Album highlight “Calme Le Jeu” sees Erian paying tribute to the band’s hometown Montreal with entirely French vocals and drummer Stevie Morotti keeps the song flying at a breakneck pace. Meanwhile, the final track, “Balance,” is the most outright throwback to metalcore’s hardcore punk roots, acting like a final adrenaline rush of frantic drumming and agitated guitars.
Metalcore and Obey the Brave fans need not worry that the group’s sound has changed since the exit of one of their guitarists and bassist. Balance is to-the-point and in your face, clocking-in at a lean and mean 25 minutes long. The album moves at such a rapid-fire pace that even the relative lack of originality or of particularly creative song structures proves to be a non-issue while listening. Just don’t expect Balance to stick with you for long after the album closes.
Written by Alex Ramsay
*edited by Mike Milito