Ogives Big Band- Boisterous Love (Album Review)

July 2, 2024


Share This Review


Connect with Ogives Big Band


Listen to Ogives Big Band

Ogives' roots go back as far as 2008, when guitarist Ben Harris began releasing ambient and noise adjacent releases under the name.  In 2018 Harris was joined by additional members and split Ogives into two entities, with the existing name continuing the ambient/noise direction and Ogives Big Band being spun up to experiment with a more rock and metal-oriented sound.  Over time Ogives Big Band has transformed further, moving from a solely instrumental affair to one with a wide range of vocals courtesy of singer Steve Roberts.  This latest incarnation has brought us Boisterous Love, and they’ve continued to explore a little bit of everything heavy while balancing accessibility and complexity.  With equal amounts of weirdness and unexpected transitions that collide with big, dumb riffs, there’s a lot to like about Boisterous Love and whether you enjoy sludge or math rock, this group might just become a new favorite.

At five tracks and just over half an hour, this album flies by quickly but it crams so many little details into that span of time.  The core sound is a fluid mix of sludge, noise rock, post hardcore, progressive metal, and a few other styles thrown into a blender for good measure, but Ogives Big Band takes these elements and makes each song drastically different.  The appropriately named “Super Sanity” gives a good idea of the wild ride you’re in for upon pressing play, as the first minute or so is built upon big, booming riffs that are equal amounts sludge and dooms but there are some guitar leads that sound a bit closer to something like Thin Lizzy.  The slower break at the three-minute mark also brings in some weirder almost jungle-like effects that for some reason brought the original Crash Bandicoot soundtrack to mind.   “Chronic Thuggery” takes the twisting and turning songwriting a bit further, with noise rock adjacent leads and slower breaks that have a bit more of a post hardcore and psychedelic flair.  “Brandishment” leans back into the heavy but through more of a metalcore/hardcore lens, sometimes sounding like a jazzier or math rock take on Every Time I Die, while closer “Absolute Unit” has booming grooves and a psychedelic tone that’s closer to bands like Yob along with bursts of horns.  But despite all the name dropping and sheer number of groups Ogives Big Band reminds me of, the way they bounce between catchy riffs, calmer melodies, and noisy freak-outs still comes together to form something that feels unique.  “Annihilation” is the only song of the five that is sparser and ties back to the original Ogives project, as this explores droning noisy textures and brass arrangements.  Admittedly “Annihilation” and “Absolute Unit” overstay their welcome just a little bit, and I would’ve loved one more song to bulk up the length just a bit more, but the balance between catchiness and complex detail Boisterous Love provides has kept me coming back again and again.

There’s plenty to absorb from the instrumental arrangements, but Steve Roberts’ vocal performance is what sets everything over the top.  Roberts’ primary style is a scream/yell that comes in somewhere betweenex-Every Time I Die singer Keith Buckley and Conan’s Jon Davis, and there’s a bite to the pitch that makes every word razor sharp.  The abrasiveness of the screaming matches up well with the sheer heaviness of the sludge and doom riffs and provides some contrast to the softer melodies that are explored on some of the later tracks.  “Chronic Thuggery” is where Ogives Big Band gives their first indication that they have a bit more variety to their vocal performance though, as the screaming gives way to much softer post hardcore style singing for a brief window.  There are also some additional clean pitches and spoken word that switch things up further later in the album, and the push/pull of the harsh and softer sections had me hooked.

I stumbled upon this Bristol, UK band through random Bandcamp label follows, and from the first few minutes of “Super Sanity” I knew it was something I wanted to cover.  The rest of Boisterous Love doesn’t disappoint, as it has the catchy and lumbering riffs sludge/doom fans will like but explores so many other rock/metal styles in the process.  There’s a clear level of complexity in the amount of changes the songs go through but unlike a lot of math rock or progressive metal adjacent bands Ogives Big Band keeps things accessible and makes it exciting to discover the details.  Another song wouldn’t have hurt and the last two songs did feel slightly overstretched, but even with that being the case this is an incredible listen and a band I hope more people find.  Boisterous Love is available from Stolen Body Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg