It's been over a decade since Washington D.C. based BRAVE released their last album. According to guitarist and frontman Scott Loose, the calm/the storm has been a work in progress throughout the past ten years right through the recording process itself. Though BRAVE is technically a progressive rock band, the calm/the storm showcases a vast range of genres and instrumentation.
Despite BRAVE branching into several genres, the calm/the storm sticks to two moods: the heavier storm sounding bass and electric guitar, and a calmer acoustic with synth backed tracks. The opening song “I Will Wait” brings heavy rock guitars that transition easily into vocalist Michelle Schrotz singing about death.
Second track “Mystery” leans on a more traditional alternative rock riff. It’s a mid-tempo song utilizing the subtlety of synthesizers. There’s a brief violin piece during the first half that comes back with a grandiose boom in the catchy chorus of “The only thing we have to love is love itself.”
The first tonal change comes in on the track “A Thousand Miles of Sand.” While the other tracks open with heavier guitar, “A Thousand Miles of Sand” opts for an acoustic intro. This is the first track where Schrotz’ voice takes centre stage, which works well for a love ballad. The heavier outro sets a mood of desolation and despair.
“Bay Song” is probably the most relaxing song on the album, and it acts as a lyrical intermission for everything. A second vocalist is brought in for “Race to the End,” another 70s inspired power ballad about how we often run away from our demons in a hurry towards nothingness.
The penultimate song “Electric Ravens” fuses both sides of the calm/the storm by using guttural vocals and deep bass. Each piece of the band gets a turn to show a mild side to their sound until everything comes to fruition in an optimistic climax. Schrotz’ ability to hold high notes for as long as she does gives the song conviction. What could have easily been a moody monotonous medley is instead a highlight of the album.
Meanwhile, “Feel the Rain” wraps up the entire experience. It uses reverb and overlaid vocals to help set the mood of moving on after a breakup that you never saw coming.
In spite of the calm/the storm dabbling with several different sounds, BRAVE never feels lost in what they’re trying to create. This is an album that speaks to some of the greater human truths: love, loss, and the many shades of loneliness. BRAVE is here to remind us that life isn’t just calm bits and chaotic bits, but the calm and the storm that exist within each other. Life is more than just a single genre.