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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Brave - Monuments - CD Cover
Image Brave, Inc. 2008

More Brave:
Passages (2004)
Searching for the Sun (2002)
(with Michelle Loose interview)
Waist Deep in Dark Waters (2001)

and as Arise From Thorns:
Before an Audience of Stars (1999)
Arise from Thorns (1997)


Brave - The Band
Brave (click for MySpace)
Image Brave, Inc. 2008

 

(04 January 2009) Brave began their band career as Arise From Thorns in the mid-1990s. They were signed to the Dark Symphonies label after their second album Before An Audience Of Stars (1999), which was subsequently reissued on the label in 2001. The first release by the band was a stunning 2001 EP entitled Waist Deep In Dark Waters. A full length album entitled Searching For The Sun in 2002 illustrated that the Washington, DC-based band had found their stride in modern progressive rock music. The band had some lineup changes before a harder electric guitar edge emerged on their followup self-released 2004 EP Passages.

Between 2004 and 2008, Brave created the foundations for what would become Monuments. After years of writing and nine months of recording, the new album was finally released independently. This album is their pinnacle work, with a refined depth and musical texture that previous recordings merely foreshadowed. Monuments contains twelve new songs and is Brave's most accurate musical expression to date.

Fronted by Michelle Loose (vocals, keys), today's lineup is completed by Scott Loose (electric and acoustic guitars, keys), Suvo Sur (violin, piano, keys), Trevor Schrotz (drums, keys), Ben Kelly (bass) and Matt Kozar (electric guitar, keys). This expanded lineup has contributed both to the depth and strength of the instrumental arrangements. Substantial violin passages give the band a Curved Air sound while a second guitar player permits them to riff into metal territory. The band now clearly straddle classic progressive rock and modern female fronted metal. But they mustn't be confused with the Nightwish-class of bands such as Epica, After Forever or Nemesea.

While the band have a good amount of output since their initial release, they haven't fallen into the trap of doing a full length album every year. We appreciate their trend of releasing something every couple of years with an EP spaced between the full length albums. Band members have lives outside of music with relationships and children drawing attention to other life events. They have always performed in the Vienna, VA area and have toured some; the band, however, mostly perform close to home base.

Michelle Loose is a powerful vocalist with a vast range and depth of character. Her vocal work conveys emotions behind the lyrics. Layered tracks add strength to her delivery but she clearly has the energy and raw sonic power to perform without layers in a live setting. Although the album has substantially more instrumental work than the band's last outing, solo vocal and self-harmonies on Monuments remain exquisite. The band thoughtfully opened the album with the vocally intense track "Hold On" and concludes the album after a gap with a reprise of the song's introduction.

Monuments departs from the band's former outings in the instrumental arrangements. While half of the tracks are song-based, the other half have extensive instrumental breaks that illustrate the virtousity of the individual artists as well as their ability to perform effectively as a larger-than-four-piece ensemble. Heavier electric guitar riffs present a metal edge that has gradually emerged over the band's last three releases. The violin work is intense and works well within the arrangements.

Brave has just signed a deal for a ten year anniversary album with Femme Metal Records from England. The album, entitledLost in Retrospect, (2009) will feature selected tracks from all of the Brave and Arise From Thorns albums, including some songs that are long out of print. Michelle said, "We are very excited about this collaboration for a ten year anniversary CD with the new record label, Femme Metal Records. We can't believe we've been making music together for ten years now and are glad to be able to re-release some of the older songs that have been long out of print. We are so happy to be woking with Femme Metal Records and thank you for your support with this collaboration." The album will be a great introduction for new listeners and a collectors item for long time enthusiasts.

While Monuments is going to take the average listener more than one play to deeply appreciate, the album's tracks show significant growth and development of the band as well as the individual artists' professional growth. Michelle Loose is a tremendous and highly captivating vocalist. Outsurviving Second Story and Grey Eye Glances who began their careers at the same time as Brave, the band compare themselves to Lacuna Coil and Evanescence, their progressive stylings are going to draw lots of attention from listeners of Renaissance, Curved Air and Iona as well.

 
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