It’s hard to say what exactly the hardest part of living really is. Some people will tell you that finding true love is the single toughest aspect of life, where some people will tell you that it’s finding happiness, or a steady job, or a place to rest your head; the punch line is, that depending on who you ask, the hardest part of life is always different, and likely representative of trials and tribulations they had to face in their own life. However, no matter what response you get, they’ll have something in common: motivation and perseverance. It takes fierce desire and ongoing effort to really get what you want out of life – to really make it your own. That’s where bands like Ohio’s positive hardcore group Motives come into play. Their latest EP, The Champion Heart, is a collection of songs which resound from personal experiences and deep, heart-wrenching emotion to create a blistering, unstoppable force to keep the listener’s head up in the toughest of times.
The backbone to The Champion Heart lies in the pulsing, pounding instrumentation which keeps the album roaring at a break-neck pace. While the album starts surreptitiously enough, it quickly kicks things into gear with “Fragments of,” a song which launches the album into full-speed with an opening that sounds like a sunrise, and a breakdown so fierce it feels like the heat of the sun itself. The drums provide a constant bounce and splash to each track that keeps The Champion Heart sounding fun and loose, even when tracks like “A Path to a Brighter Future” are moving at warp speed. In fact, “A Path to a Brighter Future” is just that – a figurative trailblazer, clear-cutting a wide open road for the album to race along without getting caught up in the brambles and snares of negativity. While the drums are constantly splashy and bouncy, the guitars range from moments of surreal harmony and beautiful synchronization to sections of spine-shattering grittiness. The latter half of “A Path to a Brighter Future” displays this yet again, with hard-hitting breakdowns that ebb into and out of serene displays of thoughtfully fretted grace. Meanwhile, “Provenance” is a display of bass-heavy, unbridled aggression which takes little time to stop and smell the roses, as it is too busy pushing and pounding along, keeping the EP’s blood flowing.
From this spinal column of stellar (if not slightly standard) instrumentation comes The Champion Heart’s ribcage: the stunning lyrics and tales of dignified stick-to-itiveness that keep the listener engaged. Among these are the words belted during the climactic breakdown of “Provenance,” in which the vocalist shouts “I didn’t start the fire, but I’ll let it burn.” These lyrics reinforce the hard-hitting and violent nature of the breakdown surrounding them. Furthermore, “Break the Static” does a stellar job of showcasing another ongoing theme of Motives’ positive message: brotherhood. It’s these lyrical themes which enable the listener to remain immersed in the EP. At times, when the instrumentation reaches a lull and sounds like any other hardcore release, the words screamed by the vocalist keep the listener in a state of awe so vivid an observer would think that they were in the middle of their all-time favorite song by their favorite band; for that matter, after the song is finished, they just might have been.
Looking at these two components alone, all there is to see are bones with no flesh – a thoracic cavity with no heart and no nerves. However, when these two elements work together, in a great magnanimous symphony, there becomes life. The power and beat from the backbone lend nerve impulses to the voracious potential for intensity emanating from the ribcage. The hollow house becomes occupied with a very functional and tangible heart. Motives use their dynamic vocal ability to play up the solid, rhythmic drive in the instrumentation to create a sensation of cohesive determination which beats in time with the pump in the listener’s chest. It’s this ability for songs like “Provenance” and “Break the Static” to connect with the listener that gives The Champion Heart its very namesake. It takes standard, every day aspects of song writing and instrumentation to make them something more – something which truly connects with the listener and amplifies the message of the band tenfold.
In time when soulless, shred-laden instrumentation might reign supreme, Motives bring new-found spirit and vigor into the scene with their positive, hard-hitting music. A combination of pounding vocals, driving music and heartfelt lyrics make The Champion Heart a living, breathing thing, pumping life into the hardcore scene.
For Fans Of: Counterparts, Hundredth, Reign Supreme, Have Heart