Waist Deep in Dark Waters

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Upon the keyboard-fueled acoustic beginnings of Brave's opening track "Spirit," from their new four-song EP, one thing is certainly clear -- this is a newer, better, more confident and musically proficient band then their previous incarnation, Arise From Thorns. Changing their name for creative reasons, to better become musically boundless, Brave has not softened their music or goals for anyone, as their name might deceivingly suggest. Instead, they have gone the route of the Gathering or Anathema by filtering out some of the metallic lead paint and opting for a more bombastic heavy rock approach. "Spirit" almost has a symphonic, folky feel, as Michelle's increasingly luscious vocals keeps the song organically grounded, preventing it from entering pomp and circumstance. As her confidence grows, so does her spellbinding patience and Tori Amos bravado. This harmonic diversity, along with tighter song structures, due to the almost progressive rock-era quality of Brave's rhythm section, put the outfit in the forefront of the constantly evolving underground metal/rock scene. As mentioned, Brave's rhythm section is enormously vital, with bassist Chris Welborn easily handling the progressive start-stop mechanism that exists within most Brave compositions. However, it is drummer Trevor Schrotz who should be thrust into the limelight. His jazz-like precision and breathtaking confidence on the cymbals is enough to put him leagues ahead of most rock drummers, let alone the thrashing legion of metal drummers who think that going faster than everyone else actually means something artistically. Schrotz's patience and background presence is what makes him the most vital musical ingredient of the band, sans Michelle. It is so very refreshing to hear a drummer who understands his amazing skills, without trying to overdue his performance to impress surface listeners. Instead, he drums for those who want to truly absorb Brave's music, those who appreciate and patiently wait for subtle nuances. Not to take anything away from crafty songsmiths/guitarists Tom Phillips and Scott Loose, who truly rocks the acoustic guitar -- as they too are crucial for the musical vitality of Brave. Their mathematical precision on "Deep Waters" and biting riffery on "Lost (In Retrospect)" is dynamic, yet simple and catchy. "Lost (In Retrospect)" has a strange musical formula to it, which oddly enough reminds one of "Mirrorworld"-era Eucharist, minus 90% of the metal, if that makes any kind of sense. Listen to first slowed down, quiet section on the instrumental fourth track and tell me that bass/acoustic interplay isn't wholesome Eucharist. One thing is certain though, Brave are getting bigger, better, and much more listenable for a diverse crowd, including metal fans. Take note -- pick this EP up and hear for yourself what Washington D.C. has cooked up, besides simple Dischord.

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