Review Summary: A brilliant band becomes even more brilliant.“Burst”
was one of the most criminally underrated album releases of 2017. Equally vigorously energetic as it is blissfully atmospheric, Belgium’s troublesome trio, Brutus, blended a colourful array of genres in grand fashion, creating some fresh and unheard amorphous mass of kaleidoscopic hardcore. Everything about the album should have magnetised success and, in many ways, it did. Relentless touring pronounced their potential unto vast audiences and very rarely did the name Brutus sit next to any form of negative comment in a sentence, generously helped by Lars Ulrich’s seal of approval. Nevertheless, “Burst”
never initially met the level of success that its contents contained.
, the band’s sophomore album, conveys the mixed feelings you feel towards others included inside your recluse comfort zone yet, opposingly, the record displays an incredibly open charisma. Compared to the band's debut album, “Fire” sounds relatively safe at first, however, once you notice the subtle nuances like how Peter’s throbbing bass fills follows Stefanie’s bouncing vocals, the song reveals its colourful charisma; the same can be said for the album’s shortest tracks: “Space” and “Blind”. While the former revolves around a staccato bass groove and poppy cries while the latter is centralised around Stijn’s amorphous post-rock tremolo, both contain more hooks than a Game of Thrones finale, all of which weave their way into your brain and refuse to budge. “War” demonstrates Brutus’ splattering of influences in spellbinding fashion. Alongside a fragile melody, Stefanie quietly pronounces that 'Our world is gone/ did we every grieve or cry, no…' As the track drips with tenderness, the trio suddenly explodes into action with screeching guitars, frenzied drums and a driven rhythm. As heightening as this rhythm sounds, it ultimately acts as an emotive soundscape to heighten Stefanie’s chorus to an enrapturing level at the song’s climax. Undoubtedly, this album increases the band's already strong songwriting ability and how Brutus is able to stitch together a variety of genres and techniques with a cohesive emotional intensity and make it look so easy is remarkable.
For all the dynamic rhythms and emotional tangibility, “Nest”
is actually a rather simplistic album. Here is what “Nest”
contains: phonetic-sounding riffs, punky bass that gives chunky muscle to the lighter melodies and always signals to when Brutus elevate the mood, drums that adapt to the temperament of the song- sometimes breathtakingly frenetic, other times straightforward pounding, vocals that aren’t incomprehensibly sung and lyrics that aren’t obscured in overly dramatic metaphors. At its core, this album exemplifies whatever lovable method bands such as Ghost and Clutch utilise to create songs that are naturally irresistible, however, Brutus couple that catchiness that with a variety of arty and atmospheric undertones akin to a band like Deftones, which in turn makes that sound even easier to adore. Catchiness is the nucleus of Brutus. Yet, when you listen to the depth and dynamics of “Nest”
, it’s staggering to comprehend how this sound is the work of only 3 people.
Consequently, Brutus command a sense of respect over their audience by how much endurance it physically takes to perform these adrenalized songs while also tying in a signature emotionality in each. Needless to say, this trio are all beasts in their own rights, but Stefanie Mannaerts is an absolute powerhouse. You can feel the endurance she somehow manages to conjure when simultaneously singing and beating the drums within an inch of their lives throughout this album, particularly in wild tracks such as “Django”, “Cemetery” and “Horde V”. Confusion and anxiety are projected in these songs through meandering rhythmic sections and catty vocals that exemplifies part of the album’s theme of other people not really understanding you, however, the way Brutus is able to connect these catchy songs with emotiveness is that you can genuinely feel each musician’s stamina being tested and how that physicality bleeds into the authentic passion contained within “Nest”
Brutus’ sound is too kaleidoscopic to contain into the definition of a single genre. The way that this band are able to pack so much into a short song and not make it sound bloated is amazing. Furthermore, the way in which they can achieve this and create a dense soundscape that is large enough to tuck away subtle ‘sonic Easter eggs’ in the layers of sound, which all contribute to enhancing the overall image of this album is remarkable. The pleasant imperfections of how Stefanie’s passionate singing sometimes cracks under the high notes, the squiggly, glitched riffs distorting slightly during “Techno”, the way that the seminal “Sugar Dragon” battles between sweetness and bitterness before exploding into an explosion of both flavours that work together rather than against each other during the songs ethereal climax... Listening to this album is like judging someone based on your first impressions, then, once you get to know them after only a brief interaction, you realise they’re so much more than what you initially perceived. If you haven’t heard “Nest”
yet, step into the inner circle of those that have. It’s funny on the inside.