Octaves – Greener Pastures

  • Bobby Gorman posted
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Greener Pastures - Hotfoot Records

Baltimore, MD’s Octaves really hooked me half way through “Fix The Fernback,” the opening track of their Greener Pastures CD.  After a little over a minute of abrasive experimental emotional-hardcore, the chaos halts for the brief, very mater-of-fact commentary, “meanwhile, in metropolis.”  It’s the perfect introjection, framing the quintet as a band that won’t hesitate to let their guard down if it means having some fun.  Even better, moments later the group bucks total dissonance for a soft, ghostly female-led serenade.  It’s an opening that poises Greener Pastures as an engaging listen from a band conscious of avoiding hardcore’s detrimental clichés.

Generally the band aligns with their proposed likenesses.  Primary vocalist Phil Foster pulls his pipes straight from the emotional anguish of the oft cited La Dispite and The Saddest Landscape and guitarists Bob Elder and Wes Young rip the band a shredded edge from Dillinger Escape Plan.  While tracks like “Anaconda Squeeze” instrumentally exude Foster’s groaning tortured anguish, the most striking moments surface when the band admits defeat.  For instance, as resolution vanishes from sight in the final moments of “I’ve Got Boxes Full Of Pepe,” Foster and Edler continue their vocal dual, but a staircase of balefully scaled notes pulls back – like a nagging voice inside taunting you to throw in the towel.  In “I’m Just Going To The Corner To Get Cigarettes (I’ll Be Back In A Minute)” the group ignores any stigma associated with melody, developing some of the album’s most mathematical and engulfing time signatures.

At a little over 23 minutes, Greener Pastures ends quickly and on a good note.  While Octaves don’t necessarily match the originality of many of their influences, they do rise to the occasion and make good on their ambitions.  When at their angriest the group admittedly loses some of its draw and reverts to blanket screaming (i.e. “I Am He Who Is Called I Am”), but these tracks are few and far between.  There’s definitely plenty of room for further experiments (and some greater lyrical focus – the album is a challenge to wade through at best) but for a first effort Greener Pastures positions Octaves as an insightful and promising piece of emotional hardcore.