I’ve lately been on a Versions and Tropic Rot-era Poison The Well kick. Fuck man, those two albums were so criminally underrated it’s a shame that no one paid any mind to Poison The Well beyond Opposite of December, which, in this humble reviewer’s opinion, is a far inferior album to the music the band would later craft. Regardless, in the midst of mourning their unfortunate demise, Octaves came and decided to cheer me up. While they were penned on our pending list as “for fans of Dillinger Escape Plan“ I had very little expectations for them. Instead what I was presented with was actually a band that sounds a lot more like Poison The Well in the later days than anything Dillinger Escape Plan ever wrote. Octaves, for what they lack in technical complexity (and this is actually not much, they’re very capable musicians) and progression they make up in sheer emotional weight.
The album starts off strong with it’s raging opener “Fix The Fern Back”, which instantly reminds me of the last couple albums that Poison The Well released, specially in their vocal delivery. And while Octaves definitely takes cues from this band, it’s also different enough to stand on it’s own. The song comes to it’s abrupt end and give way for song two (and arguably the best track on the album) “Be Angry At The Sun For Setting On A Set Of Sons” to come ringing in. These two songs are everything that Octaves is doing right. They’re dynamic, moody, explosive and cohesive. The vocals are cathartic and are carried effortlessly by the chaotic soundscape the band creates. The band continues with “I’ve Got Boxes Full Of Pepe!”, a slow churner that is followed by the one two punch of “Anaconda Squeeze” and “I Am He Who Is Called I Am”. While not awful tracks by any means, the band doesn’t quite live up to the full assault they presented with the first two tracks.
Maybe, it’s a matter of placement; Maybe the only reason I give preference to the first two tracks is because they opened up the album. Regardless, the fresh and original sound Octaves presents us with in their opening tracks seems a bit over-used by track 5. The band quickly remedies this with the ridiculously titled “I’m Just Going Down To The Corner For a Pack of Cigarettes, I’ll Be Back In A Minute”, which aside from its painfully awkward title, finds the band securing their feet down once again. This is followed by “Schmohawk”, a short burst of noise that, while not a bad song, seems as a filler among it’s far larger brethren. Octaves has spent the large majority of the album creating interesting plays between their slower, melodic moments and their more kick-your-teeth-in parts, granting “Schmohawk” almost a lazy air.
“Absent Kids Count” closes the album bathed in the darkness that drenches Greener Pastures, and is also proof that the band can write just as heavily on the emotional as they can on their amplifiers. The guest appearance of Pianos Become The Teeth vocalist is also incredibly suiting and an awesome bonus. Though Octaves does have a tendency to resort to over used blast guitars and some very Botch influenced leads, the band finds their redeeming qualities in the little frills and tempo changes that save the songs from sounding repetitive. For a band in their genre, details are everything and while earlier I stated that they did not present the same progressive qualities as the name-dropped Dillinger Escape Plan does, upon repeated listens I finally understand that it’s this attention to detail that has probably garnered them the comparison.
Greener Pastures still sounds like a very young album. It’s very much grounded by it’s influences and it will appeal to fans of the bands that Octaves are fans of. However, if the release is any indication of the band’s talent and fervor, it might only be a matter of time before Octaves come into their own and become a force to be reckoned with in today’s hardcore scene.
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