The role of mythology is to inspire both individual and collective growth through storytelling. Myths do that by making sense of the world. Vital (Southern Lord) by BIG | BRAVE is a mythical-sounding album that does just that. Of the colossal yet intimate Vital, the Doom-Sludge trio from Montreal featuring Robin Wattie, Mathieu Ball, and Tasy Hudson says, “This album involves what it means navigating the outside world in a racialized body and what it does to the psyche as a whole while exploring individual worth within this reality.” Vital tells a story through sound that makes sense of the modern world, prompting growth for those who listen.

Vital is like a primordial or cosmic entity rising into creation like a big bang. There is a galactic and epic feeling throughout the album as if the sounds on this record were created and born from the universe itself. With a title like ‘Abating the Incarnation of Matter,’ the name of the opening track is itself an invocation to magical elements. The massive sounds hint of hidden beauty and dreaminess. The effect is that of ancient forces find their way into the present, shaking up and challenging the status quo of the outside world.

Vital speaks of navigating and facing conflict posed by reality. ‘Half Breed’ is a battle cry of crushing doom melodies and sludge effects in a way that is empowering and strikes awe. Annihilating guitar riffs, singing full of yearning, and tenacious basslines create music that tells a story of order that comes out of chaos. There is also a suggestion of deeper serenity in the gritty texture of the sound, of magical qualities that enchant and offer moments of tranquility. BIG | BRAVE described ‘Of This Ilk’ on social media as dealing with issues of whitening skin. The song questions and confronts that practice, embedding social and political justice elements to the music of BIG | BRAVE on this album.

Vital is a compelling and engaging release from BIG | BRAVE that is incredibly rewarding and gratifying. With Vital, there is a feeling like that of a fable in sonic form tackling modernity. The result is an affirmation of the psyche and individual worth.


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8 / 10