With more angst to their melodic hardcore than a horde of hormonal teenagers, Belgian band Old Ivy make a striking announcement of intent with debut EP The Greater Mind. Released via GIANT MKT, the four track incitement is a promising and dramatic introduction to the Ruddervoorde quintet. It is a little bit of a mixed bag, at times simply feeding expectations with skilled and passionate quality and in other moments sparking the imagination with an exploration and adventure you can only hope the band pursue ahead. Overall though it is an intriguing and captivating tempest with plenty of potential in the band suggesting strong times ahead.
Old Ivy began in 2011, formed by guitarists Cedrik Smalle and Kevin De Cock. Initially the line-up was unstable as various members joined the founding duo but once vocalist Arnaud Stroef joined in 2012 and drummer Frederic Van Zandycke alongside bassist Luarent Huys a year later, the band found a potent completion to its presence and emerging sound. Live the band has earned a strong reputation, sharing stages with the likes of The Homeless and Meet The Storm around mainland Europe. Now with the signing to their label and the unleashing of their first provocation, Old Ivy stand poised to push their presence into a wider spotlight. It is not a startling first encounter that The Greater Mind offers but certainly one to mark out the band as worthy of attention.
As mentioned earlier the EP is a mix of success, though a success nevertheless, and it is the first two songs which make the least imposing impression on senses and thoughts. It is fair to say that both Flawless and The Northern Wind are fine enveloping and evocatively delivered propositions but do lack the spark of adventure and uniqueness which blesses the final pair of the songs, these the strongest evidence that Old Ivy can step aside of similarly driven bands. Flawless drifts in on a scenic ambience, a lone melancholic guitar making the initial emotive stroking of the imagination before being joined by the other equally soulful stringed suasion. The vocals of Stroef drip pain and unrest with his squalls as they bring the lyrical narrative into the equation. Skirted by firm rhythms and similarly sturdy bass incitement, the song wraps its emotive design around ears and thoughts before breaking into the second track. As its predecessor the song stirs up air and senses with craft and passion if without igniting something individual to the Old Ivy. The Northern Wind does delve into a deeper vat of emotive expression and intense anxiety, sonically and lyrically, providing a formidable encounter with the variety of vocals, absent in the first, an especially pleasing proposition to temper the regular acidic delivery of Stroef.
The strength and potency of release and band just ignites with the appearance of Earthling. The best track on The Greater Mind with ease it is an inventive and imagination affair which from its opening urgent riffs and restrained vocal causticity wakes a greater hunger in the emerging appetite for the band. A contagious groove aligns itself to that elevated energy and gait of the song, its eager unpredictability and lively rapaciousness an irresistible seduction for ears and imagination. There is also a distinctly different and immersive drama to the song which was missing before, it’s stalking intimidation and intensively descriptive textures corrupting and embracing. It is a masterful piece of songwriting and realisation providing the noisiest inventive suggestion that there is much more in the band to be discovered and pushed.
Abyss closes up the encounter in fine style too, the guitar scrubbing of ears at first an inviting if worrisome beckoning that expands into an emotionally searing cast of sonic hues and melodic provocation, all led by the caustic vocals. A web of adventurous rhythms brings another magnetic toxicity to the absorbing and consumptive smothering whilst the less pronounced, compared to the last song, but still clear desire to twist and stretch the band’s invention only strengthens the engagement of song and potential of the band.
The Greater Mind may not have you shouting from rooftops about Old Ivy but it will warm up an eager anticipation of their next move, especially if it explores the same avenues as the last pair of songs on the EP do. bottom line is that this is a band definitely worth paying attention to.
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