Album Reviews

Big | Brave – Nature Morte

(Thrill Jockey) UK release date: 24 February 2023

Montreal trio return with a brutal, intense and uneasy listen centred on a template of droney, doomy guitars and ethereal vocals

Big | Brave - Nature Morte There may be only three people who make up Montreal’s Big | Brave, but they know how to create quite the racket. Nature Morte is the trio’s fifth album (if you discount their collaborative Leaving None But Small Birds effort with The Body), and while the template remains the same – long, often punishing tracks consisting of droney, doomy guitars contrasting with Robin Wattie’s ethereal vocals – it somehow seems even more intense than their previous records.

Opening track Carvers, Farriers and Knaves thrusts you deep into the Big | Brave sound straight away. Mattieu Ball’s guitars grind and howl, Tasy Hudson’s drums sound like they’re being pummelled out of existence, while Wattie’s vocals eventually build up to an anguished scream as she sings of “hacking and butchering away”. It’s quite the introduction.

It doesn’t really let up in terms of intensity, for Big | Brave are a band who are all about creating moods. My Hope Renders Me A Fool is a five minute instrumental dominated by Ball and Wattie’s guitars, while The Fable Of Subjugation sees Wattie sounding very like PJ Harvey as she sings of the male gaze. The song ebbs and flows, bursting into a cacophony of chaos at times, and then slowly dropping the volume back down. It may be hard to listen to at times, but it’s impossible to tear your attention away from the song.

A Parable Of The Trusting is another nine-minute epic – this time slightly more minimalist in scope, but still consisting of the trademark droning guitars and Wattie’s screamed vocals. It’s exhausting enough to listen to, so you can only imagine how the band feel when they perform it. It’s only on the closing The Ten Of Swords that a sense of peace descends over the record, with lightly brushed cymbals in place of Hudson’s pummelled drums, and an oddly pretty melody being coaxed out of Ball’s guitar. It’s very much the calm after the storm.

Nature Morte probably isn’t an album to turn to for toe-tapping tunes or quiet contemplation. It’s a brutal, intense listen, and certainly won’t be for everyone, but those who care to take the journey will find many rewards.

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More on Big | Brave
Big | Brave – Nature Morte
Big | Brave – Vital
Big | Brave – A Gaze Among Them