Review Summary: Drug-crazed grindfreaks smoke too much, release the best grindcore record in the history of the genre.
The word didgeridoo is a phonetic description of the sound the instrument makes. It is for this reason that there exist multiple spellings, sometimes with a ‘j’ instead of a ‘g’, or a ‘u’ instead of the double ‘o.’ Andy Haas is the helmsmen of didjeridu duties on this record, and although he only appears to lend the droning aboriginal tones to a single track (“Godplayer”) his contribution to the album is immense.
You see, Brutal Truth’s 1994 sophomore release is likely the most unique grindcore album ever released. From the aforementioned didjeridoo to the album’s closer, “Crawlspace,” a violently ear-splitting exhibition of high-pitched obnoxious noises, there has never been another grind record as original as this. Other bands had mixed sludge with grindcore, but none attained the hypnotic atmosphere reached with “Collapse,” or the driving rhythms of “Ordinary Madness.” Need to Control is grindcore through an art-rock filter, with the band obsessively bouncing genres off of tracks to spin them in a different direction; yet even with all of the out-of-genre weirdness, the album never seems disorganized or disjointed. Every track logically flows into the next. Brutal Truth were so different from their contemporaries on this record, they could conceivably be considered post-grindcore. Compare the stylistic jumps from Black Flag’s Damaged to Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade, and the tag no longer sounds ridiculous. The only issue with “post-grindcore” is that it is a single-album genre. No other grindcore group ever recorded an album as varied and altogether dissimilar to the rest of the genre.
Every member of the band is operating at the top of their craft here. This is not to discount Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses, as that was a fantastic record in its own right (although slightly derivative). Guitarist Brent McCarthy weaves through customary deathgrind riffing in tracks like “Judgement” to spastic drunk dissonance in “Godplayer” to completely unhinged solos, best exemplified in “Ordinary Madness.” Dan Lilker (ex-Anthrax) covers the low end of the spectrum, providing stoned distortion to “Displacement” and a punk-influenced bridge to pro-cannabis anthem “Choice of a New Generation.” This is the first outing for drummer Rich Hoak, and his performance here solidified his presence in the group. From D-Beat fills in “I See Red” to exemplary blast beats in every single track, Hoak provides an unmatched intensity.
Kevin Sharp snarls, shrieks, and growls with endless ferocity. His vocals are extremely diverse, often oscillating between genre-standard death growls and a more unique higher-pitched shriek. “Black Door Mine” features the vocal talents of Bill Yurkiewicz alongside Sharp, while “Media Blitz,” originally by The Germs, features Mike IX Williams. These vocal features add diversity to Sharp’s already varied howls. The lyricism on Need to Control is heavily politically charged; from the aforementioned “Choice of a New Generation,” which claims “Legality the only way,” to the assertive “Brain trust trickles down stupidity/ Juggling heads of responsibility” from “Brain Trust.” And of course there are the inviting scream-alongs such as “Waste of cash” in “I See Red,” and “Burn me” in “Turn Face.”
Need to Control is a highly innovative record. From inventive bridges like that in “Mainliner” to the groovy riffing of “Bite the Hand,” Brutal Truth’s songwriting is fresh and resourceful. The album is perfectly structured as well, with “Ironlung” providing brief respite from the punishing nature of the surrounding tracks. Much like the shifting spelling of ‘didgeridu,’ Need to Control is a transient, ever-changing album that refuses to let itself fall into anything but the highest caliber of music.