The boys in Prepared Like a Bride have been kicking around the scene for a while now. Based on the Gold Coast, they finally got their act together and put out their debut record, Overcomer, on February 7. They’re clearly doing something right, because Overcomer hit #30 on the ARIA Album charts (for context, Thy Art Is Murder’s Hate hit #32), and after extensive listening, it’s clear that this album is not for the faint-hearted or casual listener.
Be warned: PLAB have made something huge. Like, ‘the Kraken from Greek mythology’ huge. In that same way that the beast resides conveniently out of the way on the sea floor, Overcomer sounds very genre-standard for the first couple of songs. Next thing you know, Liam Neeson releases it and you slowly realise how freaking massive this thing is. It’s an assault on the senses, overwhelming the listener with its sheer bulk. “Ocean Tide”, for example, is utterly breathtaking in its complexity and scale, but there’s just too much going on to really be able to follow it. That’s just one song. Overcomer is vast, and it’s practically impossible to absorb in just one listen. So why should you listen to this leviathan of the deep?
Well, first, some people like a challenge. Seriously though, PLAB have clearly agonised over these songs. They’ve found a balance between fast and moody, crushing and atmospheric. They’ve got the djenty junn-junn breakdowns and the deceptively simple drum kick beats while frontman Ryan Bowles’ menacing snarls slice through the mix. They’ve also nailed the most difficult aspect of the djentcore (oh man, what have I done…) formula: the guitars are adventurous, not reckless. This is best seen in the title track. One of the guitars will noodle off into the distance before it’s reeled back in by the rest of the instruments. Shortly thereafter, the other guitar will start exploring a little, before it too is wrenched back into position like an exasperated mother dragging her screaming kid away from the chocolate aisle at Coles. That’s a very hard skill to master, and PLAB have absolutely NAILED it.
More than that, though, the obvious benefit of all this densely layered complexity is replay value. It’s not unlike Between the Buried and Me’s work. You could spend months trying to fully comprehend what’s been recorded. You’d theorise, you’d discuss, you’d write a damn thesis and get it peer reviewed. Then, on the day it’s published, just when you think you’ve nailed it, you’ll notice something you hadn’t before.
With all these ‘musicians’ out there who are just writing double time drums interspersed with breakdowns and synth, it’s refreshing to see a band actually try to make a challenging record. Frankly, PLAB’s biggest issue is that they wrote a record that’s too intelligent to fully decipher even after eight full listens. That’s not a problem. The musicianship is sublime, the lyrics are inspiring and mature, the composition is sheer witchcraft and the final package has the depth and complexity of dark matter.
So there you have it. If you’re looking for the best metalcore record since Northlane’s Singularity, check out Prepared Like a Bride’s Overcomer. It’s brilliant.