Caravels/Octaves - Split [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)

Caravels / Octaves

Split [7-inch] (2015)

Topshelf/Bridge Nine

Split EPs have a unique place within modern music. Sometimes they can be that essential first step bands take hinting at a new direction and other times they can feel like leftover material that didn't make the LP. This split is both. Caravels and Octaves have put together a release that exemplifies contrast, while still retaining their core similarities. However where Octaves seems to be breaking new ground with songs that take risks, Caravels misses the mark with songs that sound like scraps from 2013's Lacuna. Even so, there's still a lot to offer within these songs.

Caravels plays an original blend of post rock and modern melodic hardcore that they've slowly been perfecting up through their last release and it's really well represented here. "Moody Miles" opens the EP with beautifully somber chords that blossom and spin a web to hang the rest of the instrumentation in. The ever present barked vocals are a Caravels trademark, but it would have been nice to get some diversity. In fact, lack of diversity is probably the biggest thing holding these songs back. They slowly build and build, but that huge post-rock climax never comes and the songs just keep meandering through the all to familiar melancholy atmosphere. The second song, "Slick Rick," is a bit more uplifting, with it's warm, western-tinged guitars and hopeful melodies, but nothing really stands out when the songs just flow into each other both figuratively and quite literally.

Now maybe it's just amplified by strong juxtaposition, but the Octaves side of this split communicates one thing exceedingly well. Energy. Right from the beginning, "Tom Petty Cash" hits hard with a frenzy of metallic guitars and harsh vocals. Octaves has a gritty and intense style with strong hints of early 2000's metalcore. On this split however, it's the stylistic weirdness and musical embellishments that really make them stand out. "Tom Petty Cash" features an organ that thickens up the mix and adds an ominous whimsy especially evident in the song's circus-waltz interlude. Strange sounds and effects litter this side of the EP. Combined with pounding tribal drums and frenetic key changes, "AM Traffic Control" really takes off. Octaves closes with soaring tremolo guitars that lead into a devastating breakdown, giving us the climax that Caravels couldn't provide.

Good and bad. Black and white. This release does an excellent job showing the contrast and originality present within a genre. But more powerful than the differences between the two, is the harmony created when they're combined, demonstrating how a record can be greater than the sum of its parts.