Belgian post-metal trio Brutus may be a relatively unheard of, but rest assured that by the closing moments of ‘Nest’, the band’s sophomore record, they will leave a lasting mark.
Comprising of bassist Peter Mulders, guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden, and drummer/vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts, the trio take a minimal and thunderous approach to an often overlooked subgenre.
Feedback drags ominous finger-picking towards restrained vocal notes as ‘Fire’ begins the record. Showcasing the tightness of the unit, burgeoning soundscapes are punctuated by a cluster of drum fills, bringing the track to its energetic chorus. Continuing a primal energy, it runs through evolving leads and ascending vocal melodies, held together by claustrophobic blast beats and a solid bass line.
As the record progresses further, it becomes clear that the group play as a cohesive unit, with each member serving the composition as opposed to having a singular focal point, something that’s made clear within tracks such as ‘Distance’ and ‘Space’. Building around Vanhoegaerden‘s alternating melodic patterns, ‘Distance’ maintains its power thanks to Mulders‘ and Mannaerts‘ strong dynamic grip.
Lead single ‘War’ takes an unexpected turn at the midpoint of the record. On clean finger-picking and subtle vocal hooks, the track creates a hypnotic quality before being violently shattered by violent blast beats and squealing guitar notes. As quickly as it came, the tremolo led bridge descends into a grinding time changes, held together by Mannaerts‘ vocals.
‘Horde V’ see the trio craft an unhinged collection of blast beats, urgent chords, and thundering bass notes. The song highlights the strength of each player, with Vanhoegaerden‘s sprawling melodies that evolve throughout Mulders‘ impenetrable bass lines and Mannaerts‘ frenzied drum fills and unique voice working in tandem to cause chaos.
With the majority of the tracks possessing an economic runtime and leaving a lasting impression, intrigue is held as ‘Sugar Dragon’ closes the record. At over seven minutes in length, it reaches a cinematic quality, veering between sparse and gentle reflections and commanding moments of distortion. An evolving and captivating listen, the track ends the record on a strong note.
Providing an unapologetic take on the subgenre, Brutus deliver a record that is meticulously crafted but not clinical. By playing to serve the album as a whole and injecting a punk fury, ‘Nest’ not only serves its purpose, but also aims to expand beyond its limitations, ultimately working towards the experimental area of post-metal.