Brutus (BE)
Unison Life


3.5
great

Review

by Erwann S. STAFF
October 21st, 2022 | 77 replies


Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another of those "maturity albums"

Juxtapose gritty female vocals, bass-pounding punk rhythms, furious drums, and guitar that oscillates between shoegaze, post-hardcore, post-rock, and something resembling tremolo coming out of black metal. The result is Brutus, Belgium's finest when it comes to guitar music that doesn't use shrieking as a means of communication. The Leuven-based's previous studio albums - Burst and Nest - saw the Belgian trio gain widespread admiration for their fiery and emotionally charged mix of sludge heaviness and pop melodies.

On their new album Unison Life, the basic formula doesn't change much: the same elements are more or less present, but the general tempo makes this third opus different from its predecessors. Slower and less frantic, there remain few traces of the punk fury that characterised the band at the beginning. If that's at the expense of the fresh energy that was the band's lifeblood, it's nevertheless allowing this third opus to be their most accomplished and coherent one to date. Sure, some tracks of the band's back catalog were eminently fun despite (or because of) their messy character. On Unison Life, each tune seems to have benefited from increased attention to the songwriting.

"Liar" acts as a bridge between what the band used to be and what it is now: starting with a twisted guitar riff and a roaring bass, it takes off into a chorus supported by an ethereal guitar testifying to the band's love for post-rock. These elements have always been present in the band's formula, but what contrasts with past efforts is the absence of those short bursts of energy that are effective but can catch you off guard. Brutus seem to have realised that cramming violent interludes into the middle of a classically-composed song does not necessarily work every time. Unison Life thus features some of the band's most radio-friendly songs: "Victoria" clearly acts as the one show-winner track with its shoegaze guitar line and chorus that brings back the anthemic aspect of alternative rock. Also a witness of this evolution, "What Have We Done" is nothing but one of those power ballads that every rock band must have in its repertoire - but the twist here is that the song very clearly draws its construction from post-metal tropes. The heaviness is thus still present: drummer/vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts especially tries out some rougher than usual vocal tones. Likewise, the duo of guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden and bassist Peter Mulders offer some of their most typical sludge moments - it's impossible not to think of post-metal when listening to the finale of closer "Desert Rain".

Resolutely at the intersection of post-hardcore, alternative rock, shoegaze, and sludge inspirations, Unison Life is, for lack of better words (and available talent from this very writer), Brutus' maturity album, with everything good (and bad) that comes with it. Does it lose some of the batshit craziness of its predecessors? Yes, but it also doesn't lose itself along the way. Does it play at less visceral levels? Yes, but it's built in such a way that consistency is its primary attribute. So whether you prefer Unison Life over the first two records, now that's a debate between you and yourself. Brutus have done everything they had to do: craft another album, and fill it with bangers that bring the old Brutus vibe while hinting at what the future Brutus will be.



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user ratings (203)
3.9
excellent
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Brutus strives for refinement and balance and finds deserved success in the process....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Demon of the Fall
October 21st 2022


34936 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hey, sweet, a Brutus review - and expertly conceived, by the best guy for the job!



I haven't heard this yet and am admittedly mildly concerned by some of the above

thumbcrusher
October 21st 2022


3791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree with the 'maturity' point for this album but on first listen I think they knock it out the park - can see this being a 4.5 for me



Feel like they've still got a lot of their old heavy and punky sound but slightly more refined songs and top melodies - perfect combo

KrillBoi
October 21st 2022


477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That c-section in Brave is stunning!

gravityswitch
October 21st 2022


1956 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I sense a way better rating than yours dedex. First listen in, melodies are beautiful, Stefanie's voice is incredible, everything seems more refined and, yeah, mature than the last two.

Slex
October 21st 2022


16801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I could see my rating bumping up to a 4.5 tbh

Prancer
October 21st 2022


1621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this has none of the bite that the last two had. it starts off strong but the songs start to blend together pretty quickly.

Medicinelover
October 21st 2022


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like it, I always preferred the slower somber aspect of the band and it really comes out on this album

Demon of the Fall
October 21st 2022


34936 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

War is my fave Brutus track, but that feels like the exception rather than the rule - usually I want high energy from these guys



Time will tell though, diving in soon

GmemberKills
October 21st 2022


4492 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. As someone who jammed their previous releases to death, this is kinda a disappointment on first couple listens.



It doesn't really bring much new to the table, and as others have echoed I really miss some of the more high energy stuff

autosacrifice
October 21st 2022


138 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

man i love this album. definitely would rank it slightly below Nest but i love the sound on this one

GmemberKills
October 21st 2022


4492 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hopefully it grows on me some. Don't get me wrong they still sound amazing, this just wasn't quite what i wanted from them.

Medicinelover
October 21st 2022


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My only issue with this album is the single use of the word "fam".

Just seems so out of place in this genre, either that or I'm getting old

WatchItExplode
October 21st 2022


10480 Comments


Man, this band really only has one feel. Regardless of the tempo, they just coast on this gal's raw talent

pjquinones747
October 21st 2022


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good shit

pjquinones747
October 21st 2022


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Rather unfortunate that it came out around Birds in Row and Lorna Shore because otherwise i'd probably be spending a lot more time on it at the moment.

AlexKzillion
October 21st 2022


17566 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

slaps as expected but not terribly blown away by anything on here on first listen

Taxt
October 21st 2022


1616 Comments


Damn this fall has been stacked, can't wait to sit down with this one

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
October 21st 2022


1866 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Super nice review! This sounds right up my alley so I'll def check this

LunaticSoul
October 21st 2022


2406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

did not know this was out

gravityswitch
October 21st 2022


1956 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"What Have We Done" makes me want to cry I swear



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