From the opening moments of Brutus’ debut album, ‘Burst’, you’re welcomed by an onslaught of pummeling drums, metallic guitars and a riveting bass line. It instantly has you hooked, and that’s before singing drummer Stefanie Mannaerts comes in with soaring, harmonious vocals. ‘March’ quickly lays out what this Belgian trio are all about, as it takes their hardcore origins and throws black metal and punk-fuelled adrenaline onto its canvas. Recent single, ‘All Along’, keeps up the momentum as it rumbles during its mid-section; stirring guitars and frantic drum work.
Throughout, Mannaerts lays it all on the line as her powerful vocal delivery is filled with emotion and relief. Her vocal work on tracks such as ‘Not Caring’, ‘Looking for Love on Devils Mountain’ and ‘Bird’ is raw and compelling. While every pounding drum serves as her exclamation point (‘Drive’). By the time you’re on your fifth listen, you’re sure to be aiming for those soaring harmonies and air-drumming simultaneously.
However, this isn’t all about Mannaerts, as guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden and bassist Peter Mulders take the opportunity to shine in equal measure. For example, ‘Bird’ nicely builds through atmospheric guitars before erupting with thick, striking chords. ‘Crack / Waste’ sees Vanhoegaerden produce a frantic display along the fretboard. Whereas as Mulders thrives throughout with pulsating lines that simply adds to the band’s relentless energy.
For some, the idea of mixing a range of styles could lead to ‘Burst’ becoming an uncohesive record. Nevertheless, Brutus’ mix of influences has led them to experiment, ultimately taking you on a dense, emotionally-driven journey. Its tipping point comes in the form of album closer ‘Child’. It contains every element the trio have thrown in throughout the record, bringing it all together in six minutes.
It could be too easy to proclaim ‘Burst’ as an essential listen, and even though we’re only two months into 2017, Brutus have provided one of the year’s most astounding, and intense, debut records.
‘Burst’ by Brutus is released on 24th February on Hassle Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)