My tryst with Prepared Like a Bride began when I chanced upon a clip of their single “Through Hell”. Needless to say, the track had enough juice to get anyone hooked to it. After multiple replays when I got to sample the entire “Overcomer” album, it was a satisfying discovery to say the least. Prior to “Through Hell”, the band have released a single for the track “Blood Red” and a music video for the title track. “Overcomer” is the band’s debut full length, who have already had a successful Australian tour under their belt.
The first thing that one should notice about “Overcomer” is that it stays true to all the contemporary Hardcore nuances and still retains serious replay value. Right off the bat, the band wastes precious little time before going for the listener’s jugular, with crunchy toned guitars, heavy down-tuned riffage, a la fellow Australian Hardcore favorites, Northlane. In all honesty though, Prepared Like a Bride has much more to offer in terms of variety, production quality, and general uniqueness. The vocals vary from mid-range growls and gutturals to shrieks and screams, occasionally backed by a (thankfully) well-executed gang chant. “Breathe”, the 3rd track off the album also has a special something going on for it. The power-packed percussion and guitar effects are just the tip of the HxC iceberg on this one. The semi-didactic lyrics and well-timed keyboard effects here and there also contribute to the track becoming a personal favourite.
Something that most listeners who complain how stale contemporary Hardcore albums have become with the same over-employed nuances, “Overcomer” is a game-changer of sorts by managing to retain all the usual elements found in Hardcore and still retaining some brownie points for originality. The band left no room for any amount of monotony either. For example, the filler track “9.11.12” is actually a transcript from a radio excerpt between, what I am guessing, Special Force operatives. Where most would consider this to be a mood-killer, or unnecessary filler material, for hitherto unknown reasons, it actually syncs well with the direction of the album.
Title track “Overcomer” is another bad-ass number to look forward to. At this point, there is no moot point behind comparing the band to its genre-mates, because we have already established that the former are light-years ahead of the game. The track selectively employs tasteful clean vocals that simply refuse to conform to the usually autotuned cleans that Hardcore acts use. They serve as a good reminder that cleans do not ruin a Hardcore album, artificially touched up cleans do. “Ocean Tide” is testament to guitarists Rumond Dassonville and Michael Purcell’s chops. The duo have managed to neatly layer segment upon segment of hooks and riffs that hold together the tracks smoothly. “Through Hell” which sees vocalist Ryan Bowles team up with The Plot In You’s Landon Tewers, is in my opinion the sum total of everything that the band boasts of; the track sees a generous amount of atmospherics used to take the feels a notch higher. While the atmospherics have been a steady visitor on the album, to the listener they should only serve as the icing on the Bride’s cake.
The production also grabs some of the spotlight given how much clarity is there in the tracklist. None of the guitar layers are just callously lumped, the critical listener can for once actually differentiate who is playing what and at what precise point the segment is invoked. The bass tone is something that also had me grinning. The band also deserves some credit on the lyrical front. Given how Hardcore has strangely deviated from the Straight-edge lifestyle and Politics influenced themes to whiny anthems about heartbreaks and crap that everyone deals with at some point, Prepared Like a Bride give a much personal touch to their lyrics. The self-introspection, loss, moral crisis engendered verses are palpable to a large extent.
In times where bands are either too shy to push the envelope further or blindly jump on the bandwagon when it comes to compositional skills, Prepared Like a Bride are one of the few who have got all the elements in the equation correct. Coherent compositions- check, tight sound- check, thought provoking arrangements- check, Moshworthy? You bet your Aussie Hardcore taste buds they are!