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Reviewed by - John Dunphy

A mere day after I retro-reviewed their most recent LP, 2002’s Searching for the Sun (http://www.musictap.net/Reviews/BraveSearchingForTheSunCD.html), Virginia based melodic rock band Brave graced us with its follow up, the self-released five song EP Passages. Consider it a tide-me-over until their next full length, tentatively slated for a 2005 release, Passages smartly continues the melodic, sometimes heavy but just as often serene sound prevalent on their last album with two additions: bassist Ben Kelly and violinist Suvo Sur.

Sur is without a doubt one of the highlights of Passages not simply because of his talent but by his presence. As I have said before, violins just sound like a natural accompaniment to metal that I’m still surprised more bands haven’t employed. It worked wonders for UK doom and gloomers My Dying Bride; Martin Powell is still missed by many a fan of that band years following his departure. Of course, I suppose, it’s a lot harder to find a violinist than it is to find, say, a guitar player but I digress. Its presence here lends a definite uniqueness to the band from others that only helps to further accentuate the good rather than draw attention away from the whole.

And the whole definitely continues to impress. The naturally gifted talent of vocalist Michelle Loose who trained herself has honed her vocal cords to the point that she can stand in line with the premier female vocalists in music and command respect. Likewise, guitarist Scott Loose continues to prove as exceptional a musician as his sister, especially during such passages (pun intended) as in opening stunner “Words” where he goes toe to toe with Sur, blazing through the notes like a pair of rockstar prodigies. Far from virtuoso wanking, these two put on a show that can only be heard to be appreciated.

Trevor Schrotz also continues to thoroughly impress as his jazz influenced drumming effortlessly stretches from song to song. Likewise, new bassist Ben Kelly rounds out the rhythm section well, practically getting a starring role in “Trapped Inside 2004”, a re-recording of the tune they seemed to be pushing the most on their last album. This “new and improved” version somehow feels shoddy with a lopsided production that throws the bass way in the front with everything else getting second bill. While still a serviceable tune, I once again do not believe it properly represents the immense amount of talent and emotional power this band carries and don’t quite understand why they chose to re-record it as opposed to a number of other worthy tracks.

Besides “Trapped Inside” and “Broken”, which is more segue into “Don’t Go Away” than anything else, the remaining tracks on Passages are brilliant. The fact that when I first heard “Words” via their website, I listened to it practically 100 times before even getting my hands on the disc itself is testament to how highly I place this bands efforts.

I’ll be the skipping record and say what I said when I reviewed Searching for the Sun verbatim: do I see Brave getting big? I really hope so. They contain enough of the familiar elements and an almost naïve sense of musical adventure and heart to rouse the interest of many people. They go out and they play their asses off. They record and release fantastic records despite not currently having a record contract and they just seem to love every minute of it. That is in a word: beautiful. Perhaps I am a little biased simply because I am not only looking at the music but at the band itself. But isn’t music about the entire experience? Getting the most out of it, a sort of spiritual elevation, if you will? I think so. You need to investigate this EP and this band further.

Release Date: May 26, 2004
Tracks: 5 - Time: 27:48
Produced by: Doug Johnson & J P Maheu
Format: CD / EP

Track Listing:

Words / Broken / I Am The Blues / Don't Go Away / Passages / Trapped Inside 2004.


Michelle Loose - Vocals / Keyboards
Scott Loose - Acoustic and Electric Guitars
Suvo Sur - Violins
Ben Kelly - Bass
Trevor Schrotz - Drums & Percussion

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