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Album Review: Octaves - Greener Pastures

On 'Greener Pastures', Baltimore’s Octaves showcase their brand of technical and dissonant, yet surprisingly melodic hardcore that impacts like a fist-fight but has impressive depth beyond its initial immediacy.

‘Fix the Fearnback’ sets the tone with a furious, intense opening; heavy, angular, jerky guitars flow into unexpectedly measured melodic passages while vocalist Phil Fosler’s delivery veers from impassioned scream to bloodcurdling yelp. Juxtaposition is a recurring theme throughout the record and in this storming opener the effect is heightened by the surprising addition of beautifully sung female vocals. It’s an immediate demonstration of both the technical ambitions of the band and their knack for complex rhythmic change and progressive song-structure.

Second track ‘Be Angry At The Son For Setting On A Son Of Sons’, is more straightforward in structure if no less intricate an instrumental arrangement and while next song ‘I’ve Got Boxes Full Pepe’ takes the tempo down a little, it doesn’t let up on intensity. ‘Anaconda Squeeze’, an instrumental interlude, segues into the excellent ‘I Am He Who Is Called I Am’, and here tormented, at times sung vocals and an apocalyptic lyrical theme are set-off by screaming, wailing guitars and relentless pounding drums that march towards a shattering climax.

‘I’m Just Going To The Corner To Get Cigarettes (I’ll Be Back In A Minute)’ and brief next track ‘Shmohawk’ keep the pace up before final song ‘Absent Kids Count', which incorporates eerily atmospheric organ in between slabs of frenetic noise, ends proceedings on a high. By the chaotic ending of the song it is as if the record and band are coming apart at the seams, a feeling heightened by a vocal that apes the ramblings of a madman. It is a fittingly arresting ending to the journey.

Dillinger Escape Plan are an obvious influence, but where Dillinger are sometimes unrelentingly abrasive, Octaves have a surprising melodic element despite the minimal sung vocals. There are grooves present not unlike those of The Bled at their best and further warranted comparisons can be made with bands such as La Dispute and The Chariot. This aside, there is much here that is their own and Greener Pastures is an impressive introduction; clinical but seasoned with a healthy dose of madness, destructive but focussed in its appetites.

There are no passengers here; each individual element carries over the relentless forward momentum of the record across the ebbs and flows of rhythmic change and dynamic variance in its own way. Furious and full of intent, the 8 tracks of Greener Pastures are a coherent whole, a tightly-worked vision that resonates well beyond its sub-30 minute running time. Highly recommended.


'Greener Pastures' by Octaves is available now on Hotfoot Records.

Octaves on MySpace, and Twitter.

Nick Worple

Alter The Press!