Octaves – Greener Pastures (album)

Octaves - Greener Pastures coverI’ve got to confess that with a name like Octaves I was expecting something a lot mellower, or at least a bunch of punchy pop-punk tunes, with lots of octave chords, mostly written about how girls suck and girlfriends leaving you sucks and possibly also jobs suck. I should’ve guessed from the cover art, though, that this was a more serious, heavier, harder-edged affair. It’s a cool piece of artwork, busy but desolate, washed-out and impersonal.

Octaves the band are from Baltimore and they are fans of brutal, riff-heavy technical hardcore like Converge and Pg. 99. Elsewhere they’re reminiscent of other outfits – for example, first track ‘Fix the Fernback’ recalls modern-era Fucked Up thanks to the slowly sung female vocals alongside the gruffly aggressive guyvox, whilst at the opposite end of the record ‘Absent Kids Count’ sees the band dabbling in longer, more internally varied tunes in a mathcore manner.

At the album’s mid-point a short drum ‘n feedback track acts as a bridge between the claustrophobic ‘I’ve Got Boxes Full Pepe’ (“the walls are closing in”) and the outwardly-directed bitterness and anger of ‘I Am He’ (“where’s your lord and saviour now?”). And, okay, so a record that thematically strikes a balance between introverted pain and isolation with claustrophobic metaphors and rage directed toward external entities or abstracts also as a metaphor for personal loss of faith is not so new, particularly with emotionally dark, muddy metalcore, but I like the way that Octaves have here juxtaposed these two strands of lyrical theme around this instrumental fulcrum, a breakdown between the two songs.

Fuck me I can be pretentious at times. Chances are the band intended nothing of the sort with the way they ordered these songs, but fuck it. Death of the author and all that, right?

Greener Pastures is a pretty good record with some cool aggressive tunes. Nothing has really stuck with me after a bunch of listens so I don’t think many people will be blown away by what’s on display, but fans of bleak, passionate technical hardcore will find this an enjoyable and rewarding listen. And if I wasn’t entirely wrong about the way they’ve factored theme and subject matter into their song order then perhaps future releases from Octaves will be a lot more interesting to delve into lyrically.

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