OUT OF NOWHERE, BACK WITH A BANG
2013 has been a great year for death metal fans. First Finnish death overlords Convulse come out with an EP after 19 years and now legendary Floridian death metallers Brutality come out of the dark after 17 long years with an EP entitled ‘Ruins of Humans’. Even though the band has been active since mid 2012 not much was known about the activity of the band possibly because the band had already reformed twice, once in 2005 and the second time in 2008 but never recorded any new stuff or played new shows, so when I saw this release last night on Rateyourmusic I was taken aback. Not much info was available about this except the fact that it could be purchased digitally on cdbaby.com.
Even though Brutality has a distinct sound they can call their own none of the 3 albums that they have put out sound same. While their magnum opus ‘Screams of Anguish’ which makes my list of top 5 death metal albums any day was a technical slab of death metal suffering perfected the Floridian death metal sound and delved deeper into the twin guitar sound and had a sense of urgency throughout with its complex song structures, overlapping riffs and peregrination into doom metal territory, the bands second album ‘When The Sky Turns Black’ sported a heavier sound, flirted a bit more with the doom metal territory as well as the melodic leads, and though complex at times wasn’t as technical as the former album and the bands’ last album ‘In Mourning’ had a meandering muddy tone and most attention to detail was given to the flowing melodic solos. Needless to say ‘Ruins of Humans’ was a release where you would not know what to expect.
So, what is Ruins of Humans? 2 songs, 14 minutes, 8 solos and around a dozen riffs is what it is. First things first, the band logo as on ‘In Mourning’ which the band possibly adopted because of the onset of mid 90’s hardcore has been trashed the old iconic logo with the dragon on it is back. Secondly and more importantly this EP has the same legendary line up as on the debut with Scott Reigel handling the vocalist duties, Don Gates and Jay Fernandez heading the twin guitar assault, Jeff Acres taking care of backing vocals and playing the bass and Jim Coker bashing behind the kit. It is amazing that how even after a hiatus of almost 2 decades the band still has the signature Brutality sound. While Mr.Reigel still has that powerful voice which can alternate between guttural growls and deep screams it is Jim Coker’s ability to move dexterously from a blastbeat to a powerful drumfill to simply going in the background and supporting the band when one of the many soaring guitar solos that hit your ears that really captured my attention. With the 2 tracks lasting 8 minutes and 6 minutes in length the band is no stranger to long tracks with the band continually churning out songs in excess of 6 minutes throughout their career. On their last album the band did breach their 8 minute mark but the tracked seemed dragged out.
As the self titled tracks starts out with whispered vocals and a soft guitar solo in the background which extends more than a minute take a deep breath, it is the only time the band will give you the opportunity to do so throughout this EP. This music as expected does not sound very similar to anything the band has done in the past though it borrows elements from all their 3 releases specifically the first and last album. While not as potent as their previous albums it surely is an intensive one. As the band thrusts forward with fast paced riffs bolstered by the powerful drum fills which scream of the legendary Brutality sound you never know what to expect from the complex minds that are collectively known as Brutality. Blast beats often act as a precursor to a change in either tempo or riff or a solo be it miniature or lengthy. The complex song writing only fuelled by the many riffs which are at times subtle and yet complement each other and at many times distinct is what meshes the band together to create an 8 minute monster of a track. While mostly sporting the old school sound that is atypical of death metal the majority of the solos are very melodic. By melodic I don’t mean the keyboard wankery and symphonic drivel that most modern melodic death metal band use, but melodic as in the melodic solos present on previous Brutality albums albeit a bit more melodic. Think of the guitarwork on Quo Vadis’ ‘Defiant Imagination’ mixed with the soaring, towering and lengthy solos of Forsaken’s ‘After the Fall’. Look out for the moment @ around 4:30 on the first song where the music breaks away into the thudding of the bass drum followed by the galloping riffs. A growl and riff change later the band jumps into a guitar solo and descends once again into the pit of aggressive ruthlessness. As lengthy melodic leads and soaring solos end the first track the second track entitled ‘Irreversibly Broken’ begins where the band left off. Clocking in at less than 6 minutes has as many solos as the first song but this is a less complex track with lesser tempo changes and lesser riffs but never relinquishing from its pivotal desire which is a create a bit of an epic atmosphere with its melodic leads and the towering guitar solos.
All in all, by going the Suffocation and Convulse way by incorporating a real essence of melody in this release and not creating compositions as technical as before, Brutality has with ‘Ruins of Humans’ expelled forth their most accessible release. Having awoken from their slumber after almost 2 decades the newer bands should take a much needed lesson by these masterly death metal scholars. Back in the day the band never garnered as much attention as they deserved, but with this wrecking ball of a release and the modern age where a guy like me sitting behind his computer in India is reviewing this EP a mere day after the release, Brutality may hopefully get the recognition and exposure they so thoroughly deserve.
SCORE - 80/100