Burst, the debut album from Belgian trio Brutus, is an aptly named record. It’s a sonic burst, a fast rushing monster that hits you hard right out of the gate and rarely lets you stop to catch your breath. It’d be unfair to peg Brutus as one thing, because it’s clear from Burst that they are equal parts hardcore, metal, and straight up rock. If you’re a fan of hard hitting rock–stuff brimming with chaos and energy–then you simply have to listen Brutus.
The moment album-opener “March” kicks in you get a sense of Brutus’ varied influences. It’s riff-driven, like a mixture of Every Time I Die and Japandroids, but it’s also fused with soaring, intense melody. Vocalist and drummer Stefanie Mannaert unleashes a flourish of borderline black metal blast beats while yelling out lyrics with feverish intensity. Vocally, Mannaert is raw and fierce without ever being caustic or violent. She doesn’t scream, but she reaches for notes with shouts that sometimes make it, and sometimes putter and crack. This is in no way a bad thing; in fact it adds to the band’s frantic nature. You sweat when you listen to this, and you bleed from every pore.
Tracks like “All Along” and “Justice De Juila II” showcase the insane nature of Brutus. They are frantic and haunting; a band that often moves unexpectedly and falls in and out of grooves at an unrelentingly pace. Amidst the audio madness, Mannaert punches through with breathy, reverb soaked howls that give Brutus a sound and feel all their own. Shades of post-hardcore and doom metal are woven throughout these tracks and elsewhere on the album. Burst is a casserole of rock and metal: a tasty mixture of the best of numerous genres and sub-genres.
This, again, is what makes Brutus such a great band. They sound wholly unique and yet there’s something familiar about them. You’ll hear a riff and thunderous onslaught of drums and think, for a moment, that you know where they are going. Then, everything descends into a river of tremolo and the rhythm breaks down. You think Brutus will zig and they zag. You think they’re a rock band and then they fly into a pulse-pounding blast that is straight up heavy metal. There are even, dare I say, moments for Bruce Springsteen-style area rock peppered in a few tracks. The band is all over the place and laser focused at the same time. What makes Brutus work is their refusal to be contained.
Brutus have toured relentlessly in Belgian, but the band has yet to really jump across the pond. With the Sargent House release of Burst, that’s all about to change. Brutus are about to hit North America hard, and the buzz around them is starting to rise to a furious cacophony of excitement and anticipation. One track into Burst and it’s easy to understand why. The hype around this band is earned through every riff, breakdown, and cathartic shout. This band plays like they are expelling demons, and it is utterly awesome.
For fans of hardcore and metal music, finding something that sounds new and different isn’t always easy. Brutus sound like nobody else because they sound like everybody else. They’re equal parts punishing and pleasing. Chaotic and controlled. Challenging and comforting. They push and pull you in multiple directions and that’s something worth paying attention to. You owe it to yourself to check out Burst, as it’s too good to skip. Brutus is is poised to be the next big thing; just you watch.