Old Ivy are a Belgian five piece who play a style of hardcore you’ve probably heard before, maybe through the likes of Have Heart or Defeater. Hopefully name-dropping those two bands is enough to tickle your interest, and thankfully Old Ivy’s debut release is good enough to satisfy it.
The vocals on The Greater Mind are where the majority of comparisons will be drawn, being distinctly gruff and passionate. Vocalist Arnaud Stroef delivers a similar style to Patrick Flynn and Derek Archambault and he makes sure that his heavy vocals sit well over heavier backdrops and less so on the EP’s more melodic moments, of which there are a few. Instrumentally the EP is also excellent, although there’s not always enough to set it apart. The crushing Earthling is by far The Greater Mind’s heaviest addition, throwing in a breakdown towards the end to break things up amidst lyrics with a thought-provoking message on equality. Whereas the third track holds nothing back first track Flawless builds slowly after a somewhat haunting intro, as rain falls in the background, making for an excellent opener which sets the tone well for what follows as the intro eventually gives way to a pounding and melodic soundscape which is one of the EPs best. Old Ivy are very good at pacing themselves, and their debut EP picks up and drops off in the right places, always done so with a graceful poise whether it’s erupting or easing.
The other two tracks that make up The Greater Mind, Abyss and The Northern Wind are also solid. The former takes a heavy approach with some deep and personal lyrics to match the angry intensity that Stroef supplies throughout, making for a poignant, ferocious and memorable track with a killer final minute. Closer Abyss is a wholly fitting finale, pairing some of the EP’s best lyrical content (‘I will never say forever because life is a series of present moments / And trying not to make any mistakes is perhaps the biggest mistake’) with Old Ivy’s most adventurous songwriting. The song begins with a fairly upbeat almost punk riff before launching into blossoming noise, with crashing drums perfectly complementing climbing guitars. Stroef strains and pushes himself while the rest of Old Ivy do likewise, occasionally sitting back for some of the more memorable vocals, which stand tall above a subtler backdrop before cries of ‘I want to be everything I can’t be’ close the song over a full band crescendo. Ending an EP with its strongest selection can sometimes detract from those that precede it, but Abyss serves as an exceptional end to an EP that is constantly promising and consistently delivers.
The Greater Mind presents four tracks of well thought out hardcore, with a little more emotion than the average release of this nature. Although it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table in terms of its genre it’s still a great release which serves as an equally great introduction to a band seemingly on the way up with every second of their debut. If it’s anything to go by, Old Ivy are a band to watch closely from here onwards.
Rating – 8/10
Stream / buy it here: http://oldivy.bandcamp.com/album/the-greater-mind