Brunel – ‘Smash On’

By Lucinda Livingstone

Brunel have been together since 2012, their beginnings rooted in the Plymouth alternative scene. ‘Smash On’ is the debut from the 4 piece. Made up with members from previous musical projects Brunel are: Jim MacGregor (vocals), John Cooper (Guitarist), Craig Smith (Bassist) and Ben Russell (Drums). They have gate-crashed 2015 with their full-length, a ferocious breed of modern punk taking influences from 80’s and 90’s alternative rock.

‘Smash On’ was recorded in just over a day in a local venue by Sam Radcliffe of Boxkite, featuring 9 explosive tracks. The debut is a testament to their musical ability considering it was recorded in such a short space of time. Many bands would spend weeks in a studio, but Brunel have captured their sound, energy and passion towards live music perfectly. Diving in, not knowing quite what to expect from the foursome, ‘1 Girl 12 Cups’ kicks off immediately drawing you in with MacGregor’s aggressive vocal style. Full of angst, but in no way reminiscent of a group of angry teenagers, Brunel’s sound embodies four grown men, fed up with life and ready to let off some serious steam within this album.

The pace doesn’t slow for a second and the more lengthy tracks like ‘High Speed Death’ and ‘Real Housewives’ really get the blood pumping, to the extent of wanting to smash up every foreign object around you! Cooper and Smith integrate admirably creating a giant wall of sound behind Jim, dropping in and out at all the right times adding great dynamical contrast to each track; which really shines through in ‘Incredible Quality of Life’.

Penultimate track ‘Less is a Bore’ is the real highlight of ‘Smash On’. It’s the perfect mix of angry and melodic, with a great instrumental from Cooper, Russell and Smith really showing off their talent. They combine so many tight-nip riffs between them with plenty of room for head banging. To put an end to the record the seven minute epic ‘Pass Incomplete’ winds us down. From subtle beginnings gradually building up to a stomping final breakdown Brunel send themselves out with a bang. After 40 minutes of fleeting, intense punk rock you’ll be left wanting to experience the guys live, or craving another couple of listens. ‘Smash On’ is a strong first debut from Brunel; created to be listened to as a whole, and proving the album is definitely not a lost art for a Punk band.

LUCINDA LIVINGSTONE

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