The third album from Montreal Quebec Canada hardcore crew Obey The Brave arrived in 2017, the follow up to 2014’s “Salvation” and impressive debut “Young Blood”. The band are fronted by Despised Icon vocalist Alex Erian and after a line-up shuffle feature former Blind Witness members in bassist Miguel LaPage and guitarist Jon Campbell.
The first thing that stuck us about “Mad Season” was the fact that the album, for us, is in the wrong order. “RIP” has a rap intro that would have made a really good opener on the basis that you think you’ve put the wrong album on then it kicks in. Also stronger and heavier songs “Low Key” and “Feed The Fire” would sound better earlier on the album’s order and give the whole thing better flow. 2012 single “Full Circle” from the bands second album “Salvation” appears to be the template or formula that Obey The Brave have followed for the style of “Mad Season” as a whole.
The second thing that really struck us was the amount of clean vocals. Yes, there are the same plentiful gang vocals thoughout as on the previous OTP album “Salvation”, but this time there are a lot of cleans as well. It’s not something the band or indeed frontman Alex Erian has been known for and is surprisingly off putting. Then there is the music. The bands style in this third album has fused melodic metalcore, hardcore and pop punk. So you have that edge and the breakdowns but some of it comes across as belonging on a Pop Goes Punk album, almost starting to go down the A Day ToRemember route.
The band haven’t so much mellowed out as perhaps made a stab at a more commercial sound. The album itself is really an easy listen, but lacks the satisfying crunch of both of previous albums. Debut “Young Blood” was one which stood out as Erian switched from the Deathcore sound of Despised Icon to Hardcore and worked really well, especially when they called in the favours with a string of guest appearances including the likes of Scott Vogel from Terror.
Overall “Mad Season” is an album that grows on you with repeated listens but there is a real question over the production value and mix here. It’s a distinctly flat album that doesn’t offer that much in terms of fresh ideas, despite moving away from what the bands sound appeared to be. There is enough here to add two or three to their live set and bring the big sing-a-long element to the stage show, but falls dramatically short of anything more than that, which is really disappointing given the previous output. Here’s hoping the next time around they deliver something more satisfying. [4/10]