Welsh outfit Brutality Will Prevail are undoubtedly one of the biggest current bands in UK hardcore, and as such have really become a litmus test for the state of the scene. Their last release, ‘Sleep Paralysis’, saw a sharp divergence from their usual downtempo sound into far more experimental territory; simultaneously earning praise and criticism for truly pushing boundaries beyond the conventional.
Their aggressive sound and live performances have been seen by some as lively and cathartic, whilst others decry a macho atmosphere and an elitist ‘family-only’ attitude. In short, Brutality Will Prevail attract a range of opinions as they continue to prosper, as seen on the recent Terror tour and attention from the likes of the BBC and other media. With their new album, ‘Scatter the Ashes’, it could be make-or-break time for the Cardiff city boys.
The album begins on a Type O Negative-level disingenuous intro, suggesting an album dominated by mournful acoustic tunes (apart from similar sentiments expressed on later track, ‘Hallucination’). That is until the track grinds to a hold, feedback echoes and the listener is introduced to the co-ordinated guitar attacks of Nick Rix and Ash Gray, the gritty bass work of Jordan Murray and the thundering percussion of Marc Richards, bringing order in the chaos.
Which is to say nothing of the performance by Ajay Jones; without even having to understand a word, you understand the expressions made by a man expression anger, depression and heartache in the most human terms. His vocals are some of the most unique in UK hardcore scene and he puts himself through his paces to diversify how he sounds. From the straight-forward heavy shutting on ‘Sin Of Commitment’ to the cleaner, shriller style of ‘The Path’. That said, Jones isn’t the only member on the record experimenting.
Since ‘Root Of All Evil’, Rix, Gray, Richards and ex-member-now-back-in-the-fold Murray have really defined themselves as trendsetters within the hardcore scene with their distinctive downtempo sound. Reminiscent at times of the New Orleans sludge of Eyehategod as much as the breakdowns of Cold As Life, it’s heartening to see that there hasn’t been any complacency when it comes to songwriting this time around.
Whereas previous track may have suffered from being set to one speed, usually deathly slow or rapid urgency, there’s a more sinister, snaking approach taking place here. This can be seen on a track like ‘Casket’; beginning on with mid-paced, Harms Way-style shredding, the track organically drops out midway into the clean guitars that occasionally seemed incongruous on ‘Root of All Evil’. That’s to say nothing of the Machine Head-style riff at the beginning of ‘Twisting Tongues’, whilst the track ends on a massive breakdown and nothing between those two points comes across as forced or convoluted.
Overall, ‘Scatter The Ashes’ justifies Brutality Will Prevail‘s place as one of the top dogs in UK and Euro-wide hardcore. Few bands risk experimentation or go all out and ruin what made them good; few hone their craft to the point where each riff sounds well placed, each track lasts just long enough and it remains a decisively hardcore album. Jones, on ‘The Path’, laments “suffer(ing) the path of life”; to the contrary, at this rate, he and his compadrés can look forward to a bright road ahead.
Written by Fin Murphy
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS!