Hardcore is, as they say, a many splendor thing. And if not that then it has been done enough times that some gems are bound to float to the surface of an ocean of rubbish. This is where Obey The Brave come in. They’ve made a small but not unimpressive name for themselves since bursting out of the native Canada only just over half a decade ago. They’ve managed this by not necessarily being the most original outfit going, not by being the best at what they do, but by putting real heart and energy into their music, touring extensively, and blowing apart every venue from Canada to Cambridge.
Mad Season is a surprisingly good album. Going into an album with no expectations or ideas of what may happen and coming out of the other end not just surprised, but itching to listen to it again, is a treat that seldom comes about, but Mad Season is one such album. Part of the charm of it is how Obey The Brave manage to do hardcore that’s very obviously hardcore, but that doesn’t have exactly the same sound to it that other bands do. This is undeniably Obey The Brave. Whether it’s vocalist Alex Erian‘s screaming mixed with old-school punk clean vocal style of delivery, or his occasional switching between English and French, it’s definitely the vocals that provide this album with the identity that so much of hardcore lacks.
The first three tracks alone have better choruses than 90% of the rest of hardcore – it’s a shame some of the instrumentation (the riffs in particular) aren’t ever quite as unique as the vocals, and it’s here that the album does fall a little flat. Obey The Brave don’t tend to rely on breakdowns to get them through songs, and have actual vocal hooks that aren’t mosh calls, but despite them writing songs that are more like “proper songs” they do also follow a lot of the generic tropes of rock music songwriting. If there was a little more experimentation with things like rhythmic diversity, lead guitar work, and song structure then Mad Season would get that little kick it needs to make it a really stand-out album.
In a genre that seems to allow mediocrity to flourish, it’s not just exciting to hear a band that are above the average, it’s reaffirming to know that the genre isn’t becoming as stale as fast. And here comes possibly the biggest compliment of all:
If you really miss The Ghost Inside, listen to Mad Season. Obey The Brave aren’t as good, but there are points on this album that come damn close.