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Passages CD Cover
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Image Brave Music 2004

Brave Michelle, Scott, Ben, Trevor, Suvo
Image Brave Music 2004

More Brave
Arise From Thorns Feature
"Waist Deep In Dark Waters" Review
Searching For The Sun Feature

(13 June 2004) In their latest EP "Passages," recorded with 50 hours studio time earned by winning the number two spot in the Washington, DC-area Battle Of The Bands, this female-fronted Virigina-based band defies genrefication. While some may classify them metal, others would certainly put them in the progressive rock category. But the fact is, they blend these styles with pop, classical and folk, and in this latest EP, listeners are going to find Celtic elements as well. Further information on the band and their prior releases is available from links presented under the album cover image.

The band's material is ambitiously rich and sensuously layered with styles that span from simple balld to complex progressive epics with vast mood and tempo swings. The band's new five track EP clocks in at over 27 minutes, almost an album for some other artists. While their lineup has evolved since early days, today Brave is Michelle Loose (vocals, piano, keys), Scott Loose (guitars), Trevor Schrotz (drums), Ben Kelly (bass) and new arrival Suvo Sur (violin, keys). Suvo's violin parts add depth and texture to Brave's sound in this new release. The band have left Dark Symphonies and therefore proceeds from the EP will finance the next full length album, projected for 2005.

The EP opens with a six-minute track entitled "Words," which sets the scene for the rest of the EP by blending rock, metal, progressive and ballad textures in one rousing piece. Michelle's characterisically smooth and crystalline vocals are mixed well atop the rhythmic instrumentals, even the varied tempo and metal-edged guitar riffs. One does not have to listen too carefully--especially the sweeping violin solo that compliments those by electric guitar--to hear elements of Mostly Autumn in the band's new sound. It's the combination of different styles though that makes the material so enjoyable.

"Broken" is an introductary ballad that blends seamleassly into "Don't Go Away," with rhythmically heavy lead and bass guitars providing the foundation while never overpowering Michelle's soaring heartfelt lead vocal and backing harmony layers. A vast guitar solo during the instrumental bridge is perfectly complimented by the softer thematic echo by violin.

The EP's title track is an epic number clocking in at just under ten minutes in running time. An extended instrumental introduction showcases guitars and violin before the tempo drops back and ballad-style lyrical segments begin. Evocative violin excursions compliment Michelle's soaring lead and harmony vocal layers. A Celtic violin solo during the instrumental bridge is perfectly backed with rhythmically echoing electric guitar parts--developing into a Celtic-metal mix--clearly illustrating a new dimension to Brave's sound. Listeners will especially enjoy the upbeat memorable melody presented Michelle's vocals during the song's powerful middle climax. The instrumental conclusion of the song perfectly matches its beginning.

The EP concludes with a new arrangement of "Trapped Inside" whose previous version appears on Searching For The Sun. As one would expect, the new version is significantly more robust with guitar and violin solos dueling intersperced during the extended instrumental bridge before Michelle's lead vocal returns. The tempo changes within the song are significantly more extreme in this new version. This has got to be the song to see them do live.

"Passages" clearly shows that Brave are combining their background with new ideas and as a result of their 50 hours of studio time is a tremendous step forward. The band's staff writer perhaps said it best, "Brave are Led Zeppein, and Tori Amos, and Lisa Gerard, and King Crimson, Anathema and Fates Warning, The Gathering, and Dream Theater, Geneis and Queensrhyche, Sarah McLachlan, and the Cranberries, and Lacuna Coil to name a few." And of course they are none of these. A great EP, which could have only been improved by mastering more along the lines of their previous album. The new album will of course be superb.

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