Review Summary: "Still not loud enough, still not fast enough..."
“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”
Despite Western society’s apparent attempt at denying all the lesser facets of human functioning, both physiologically and psychologically, the deep primacy inherited within the very DNA that spawns these physical vessels is intrinsically and undeniably a tether to the left hand path whose hand churns the dirt and roots of this incomparable sphere we call home. Such an integral part of our cosmic design transcends all thought, all mitigations, comparisons and constructs that sprout from the conscious mind; for the conscious mind cannot grasp the unconscious world any more than a pitch black room can grasp light through a pinhead-sized aperture. Brutal Truth was apparently well aware of this animal inside us all, because in 1997 they decided to shed all traces of civilized conjunctions and devolve into the basic pre-sapien blueprints that heralded the dawn of humanity itself.
Anyone familiar with the band's previous works will no doubt be able to recognize Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom as a Brutal Truth album almost instantly thanks Kevin Sharp’s unforgettable southern-tinged maniacal outbursts and the Lilker / Gurn duo's angular string explorations. This however, this is not the Brutal Truth of old. Whereas most bands choose to evolve over the span of their career (or at least pretend to), here we witness a band devolving and diverging away from all traces of humanity’s very role in music, and crafting a work of modern genius in the process.
Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom signifies an inner war that rages within us all, the war of beast vs. man, and of nature vs. order. Seething with anger, hostility and a fair dose of inadvertent humor, SOTAK takes a more subdued approach to these classic expressions of grindcore thanks in large part of a divisive production job. While the LP's between Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses and Kill Trend Suicide featured the upfront and personal productions qualities characteristic of most grindcore, this album is muzzled like a farmed pitbull, while nonetheless remaining at least well-balanced through all areas. Many have irked this as a fault to the album’s potential but in grand scope it fits what the band is trying to express perfectly. The subdued and denied inner-ape heartily fighting to the surface of man’s weakened ego.
Lyrically the whole thing is on point through and through, rife with intelligent qualms against the civilized world without ever taking itself too seriously, "You think you have the answers, With not a shit to say, Rip apart my every thought, Before it's ever said, Fuck off - fucking little trendy, Brats bored of spending, Mommy's cash"
Well thought first person social commentary contributes an even deeper and more reflective swath of perspective to come forth[i]"Next in line, Step to me and bass the buck, It's only human actions, Force me to lash out and crush." For good measure, splashes of Hunter S. Thompson-esque humor, and toungue in cheek defiance keep the whole thing rather jovial about its own violence, "Kicking back and turning on, Punching out reality, While sifting through, The hand that feeds".
It's clear Kevin Sharpis a well versed explorer of the human condition.
It must be noted here that Sound Of The Animal Kingdom is not an easy listen. Clocking in at well over an hour, it can be considered that the first 50 minutes is the meat and potatoes of the album, while the last 22 minutes is the indigestion. While the majority is blitzkrieg grind with tastefully paced noise samples, Prey, the final track, is basically a 2.5 second loop from the earlier track Average People, played over and over probably hundreds of times. While many would call this drivel, it poses double roles, both remarkably concise; as a test for the doubter’s patience, and as a symbolic summary of the antithesis of accessibility for a human mind, with repetition itself serving as the only vanguard to cohesiveness.
However one should not be mislead by this caustic form of primitive embrace. Musically this is no quartet of gorillas throwing instruments at rubber truck tires hanging from trees, rather it presents itself as a fully conscious and calculated observation that can only be understood when one sheds all traces of every artificial construct and idea that clutters the civilized man’s mind. The guitar buzzes around recognizably groovy riffs like a nest of angry hornets and reduces the traces of musical familiarity with angular deconstructions and inimitable skewing of basic songwriting. Oft jumping from hardcore and punk influenced riffs like the first half of Vision, Brent "Gurn" McCarty is a master at letting loose on the guitar like the inner explosion of anger a man experiences when building IKEA furniture. These releases, coupled with his large mixbag of diverse riffs make songs like Dead Smart turn on a dime and harken some of this band's most memorably catchy moments. Danny Lilker's bass shines through in a tightly executed manner through the whole endevour, adding an essential crunch to the bottom end while pillaging with a commanding fair that often dances in the foreground. The drumming on this album fits the overall feel of the piece wonderfully as well, utilizing plenty of grind-rolls, blasts and while maintaining a healthy dose of groovin’ southern rock influenced pacings, particularly prominent on the slow-burning Jemenez Cricket, which also features some of the most vivid and lucid riffing found in the genre. Although the cymbal work is quite muffled in the production job, it still sits well in the mix just below the buzz-saw guitar tone.
Songwriting’s very definition gets blurred within the lines of grindcore, renowned for its short and tenacious symphonies of chaos, but Brutal Truth are no slouches in the diversity department. Despite being a grind album through and through, there are plenty of painfully slow, doomy passages that do wonders at accentuating the animalistic fury that dominates the album. The variation of riffing, drumming and vocal work keep the whole thing rolling all the way to end while captivating the listener’s interest with morbid fascination. As he sees the deepest realms of his own self being reflected in the noise, he is left wondering if he can accept what he has seen and heard; left wondering if he can accept himself
With Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom, Brutal Truth have intelligently crafted a work that serves as an antithesis to all civilized life, a denial of all humanity whilst embracing natural chaos and a return to the roots of our savage origins; rough around the edges, callous and brutish, for better or worse. As if completely void of self-relfection, this is a rampaging destruction of all mankind's progress and triumphs through the milennia. So if you enjoy primal yet intelligent grindcore, or any extreme music for that matter, this album stands as a flagstaff middle finger to all that is holy and good, a beacon of hope for the savage beast boiling within us all.