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EP Review : Oli Brown & The Dead Collective ; Prologue

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Review by Gary Spiller for MPM

From ‘Prelude’ to ‘Prologue’ searing Norfolk six-stringer Oli Brown and his deservedly much lauded Dead Collective project have just released their sophomore EP. From the introductory, and so very well received, strains of the debut EP The Dead Collective, with this latest release, ramp up the emotive powers even further.

The quartet of tracks herein serve notice, context established for the coming storm. That which excites now exhibits the opening background and provides an exemplary suite to content until further courses are served up. A triumvirate of new numbers plus a most welcome singular delving into the Solitude Sessions for a reworking of the darkened shadows of ‘Sinking Ship’ has me transfixed.

Coming off the back of a hugely successful support slot with Northern Ireland’s consummate rockers The Answer – during which the opportunity to showcase each of the three new tracks was taken with both hands – Oli plunders forwards, no need for a rear-view mirror, this is a journey heading into a bright future.

Within lies an ethereal, oft devoid of light, journeying through facing the demons and unbottling that which has been kept within for too long. Ahead of this release Oli mused upon the creative process “My subconscious was about to make me more aware of what was happening in my mental health than my consciousness. I realised these songs would quickly take on a more significant meaning to my life.” Resonant on so many relevant levels these tracks contain much for many.

In stark, and inspiring, honesty Oli continues ““After a series of traumatic experiences, which led to extensive therapy, I put the fragmented pieces into these new song lyrics.” It’s raw, it bleeds pure emotion and defies categorisation in the most resilient of stances.

Summing up the EP perfectly Oli notes in strengthening tones “As I began to rebuild my foundations, for the first time as a singer, I could utilise the synergy between my heart and my voice, connecting the performance, expression, and vulnerability of the lyrics with brutal honesty. This is no longer about performing for the sake of performing.” All I can add to this poignancy is to be sure to remember these words when listening and immersing oneself in this EP.

With a dimension-warping ambience ‘Your Love’, clocking in at a shade over seven minutes, provides a cross-over, in parts, of Pink Floyd’s ‘Time’ and Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ as Oli’s angst-laden vocals relate of a failed relationship. Sensitive and exposed it explodes into a broiling meld in which drummer Wayne Proctor lets fly alongside Oli’s rough-edged guitaring. Soaring, cresting if this doesn’t tug at the heart I, for one, will be shocked.

With a grungy fringe ‘Everything You Want’ rams Pearl Jam headlong into a scintilla of modern-day bluesy sparks beloved of the likes of Jack J. Hutchinson and Troy Redfern. Riff laden and intense every ounce of being is poured into this delivery. ‘Father’ with its very embattled personal lyrics traverses darkened environs of mental health struggles. The context is powerful and striking, one which hits home with a thunderbolt, as Oli explains There’s no religious connotation for the song, or family, it’s just reaching out for someone to acknowledge I need pulling out of the black hole.”

Harvested from the Solitude Sessions – a recording stint that has already borne the delectable fruit of ‘Haunted’ – ‘Sinking Ship’ has been masterfully reworked in a way only the likes of Oli can employ. Featuring, once again, the sulphurous elements of renown cellist Jo Quail this time alongside the smoking fretwork of Sam Brown (Wayward Sons, Black Star Riders) Oli takes his foot off the accelerator to serenely slow the pace. Stripped back with an emotive despatch sufficient to enkindle the deadest of coals; a flame burns even brighter than before.

It is this flame that shines with a sense of pervading redemption throughout this EP and even in the darkest of times demonstrates that there is a healing process that can be sought and utilised. The Dead Collective are just beginning their travels and through the windswept plains they will deliver further. “Out with the old, in with the Dead!”

Only available to buy & listen here http://linktr.ee/olibrown

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