Brute are way smarter than their name might suggest. Let’s jam some (mostly) brutal death metal!
- Virulent Depravity has another new song up from Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, which has quickly become one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Look for that in April.
- Kardashev, who wrote the best Fallujah album of the last three years, have a new single out. They’ve continued their trek down the prog-hole, and I’m really digging the direction on this one.
- Dominic Lapointe is a name that should be familiar to every fan of tech death at this point. If you dig bass wizardry, check out his playthrough of First Fragment’s “Gula.”
- Speaking of rad playthroughs, here’s one for the title track from the Wastewalker debut, Funeral Winds.
- Hideous Divinity has a monstrous new song up from their forthcoming album Adveniens. Get on this if you like it fast and hard.
- Gorod is thrash now.
- Texas’ Asylum has an album due on March 17th, and you can check out a new song right here. These guys have proven the quality of their work in the past, and this new material sounds like it’ll be surpassing that even.
- Profanity are out to teach us The Art of Sickness on their upcoming album, due out on April 21st. If this song is any indication, I’d say they’ve got a pretty good handle on it.
“Melodic brutal death metal” isn’t a common descriptor, given brutal death metal’s rocky relationship with melody, but that’s exactly what you’re getting with Brute’s Henchmen. The combination of band name and album title would suggest the music would be the absolute furthest thing from melodic, but I was surprised to hear riffs that aren’t just melodic, but tasteful at that. I’m not sure if Brute crawled out of some backwards Bizarro world into ours or I’ve been sucked into one myself, but what I do know is that Henchmen is fantastic.
Past the instrumental introduction “The Last Feelings” into the opening moments of “Mutual Punishment,” nothing appears to be out of the ordinary. You get a solid (if fairly typical) heavily palm-muted chunky brutal death riff backed by hammer blasts, but it closes out its intro with a tremolo riff that follows the VII-VI-V progression that every neoclassical band has put into a song at least once. It might not seem like something terribly special, but in the context of what we’ve heard so far, it really stands out. One might think it could just be a short fill for some flavor, but it turns out this is one of the central themes of the song. The band returns to this motif about halfway through at around half speed, and it’s here that it becomes obvious that this won’t be your run-of-the-mill BDM album. From there, it moves into a grooving mid tempo riff before hitting you with a brief (but glorious) slam and bringing it back around to the opening theme.
From “Severe Zeal” onward, the band makes it clear that they’re not playing to standard genre conventions. Sure, you get the sudden tempo changes, guttural vocals, and occasional slams, but the whole is so much more than that. There’s a hefty amount of prog mixed in with the brutality, showing itself throughout the riffing and especially in the clean intro of “Three Days.” The solos are more about emotion than about shredding as fast as possible, with the fastest guitar work reserved for some unstable harmonized runs and beefy low riffs. There’s a solid amount of variety in the songs and the performance is tight, but not so much that it feels mechanical.
The album isn’t perfect, of course; there are a couple portions of songs that feel a little too samey. There’s an ascending scale lick that shows up in the first song that shows up again in one or two others almost note-for-note, and there are a couple of the low standard BDM riffs that blend together as well. On top of that, there are a couple songs that end very abruptly without much buildup. A sudden ending isn’t usually a problem, but one or two of these songs return to a riff that feels like it should be a transition of some sort right before cutting off.
In the grand scheme of things, these are just minor nitpicks. Henchmen is more than just a solid album: Brute go out of their way to experiment, and it pays off greatly. This is an album that can be enjoyed by fans of brutal death and those who like their music a bit more on the cerebral side. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Henchmen, and I can see myself returning to it for plenty of repeat listens.
That’s all we’ve got for this week. You can check out Brute on Facebook and get their music digitally at the Bandcamp links above (with a CD coming on the 15th). Until next time,
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