Big Brave returned to the scene on September 15th with their third studio album, Ardor. The Canadian three-piece trimmed their track listing down to three this time around, which enhanced the band’s philosophy they presented on 2015’s Au De La; fewer songs, more content.
With slow-moving parts and hauntingly serene vocal breaks, the band certainly carves out a distinct identity for themselves in the world of metal. The sludgy instrumentation coupled with the spasticity melodic vocal style produces something that sounds like if Eyehategod slowed down their songs by 50 bpm and merged with Björk. Whatever Big Brave sounds like, it is clearly working for them.
Each track on Ardor is longer than the next, and none of them venture below the eleven-minute mark. This proves to be an interesting direction for the band but also opens the door for massively repetitive song structure. The long track lengths are undoubtedly due to Big Brave’s “jam band” nature, but Ardor at times feels like a broken record.
The bright side of the album though is the fourth member of the band, silence. The best moments on Ardor come when the band lets silence split their musical phrases and accompany the vocals at times. For these beautifully crafted dark moments, look no further than the nine-minute mark in “Borer,” the 4:20 stretch in “Sound” and the very beginning of “Lull.”
The band clearly builds on their silent strengths gathered on their previous albums Au De La and Feral Verdure. Ardor, though is the most incoherent of their releases thus far. This could be Big Brave’s way of taking the progressive route, but it simply sounds disjointed compared to their last work. The three songs on this album feel like drawn out intense ambiance rather than the conventional song structure we’re all used to hearing. However, this is a good thing. It’s a different flavor to try, and a different vibe to sit in. The chaos is refreshing in today’s generally formulaic “riff-verse-chorus” song structure.
Ardor is definitely different. The astoundingly long songs on the album do not evolve, but instead remain stagnant, often repeating past phrases and driving home certain melodies. Overall, the album is drenched head to toe with creepy auras and guitar feedback, making it an ambient treat for metal fans looking for something a little off the beaten path.