Brutus – ‘Nest’

By Dave Bull

“A nest is a safe environment created in order to protect the people you love.” So say Brutus in their description of new album ‘Nest’, the band’s second full length release that “takes you to that moment where you feel like all of the things you’ve built are crumbling down.” A fitting nod to the berserk modern day world.

What sets Brutus apart is the incredible front woman and drummer Stefanie Mannaerts. Her unique, large, and beautifully crafted vocal pallet adds layer upon layer to this exciting trio’s progressive take on hardcore.

Opening track ‘Fire’ drips in slowly inside your conscious mind whilst Mannaerts hauntingly soft vocals give way to a more frenetic scream of ‘Fire’; the ability to drum with such ferocity and also hold your vocals so tightly is no mean feat.

Stand out track on the album ‘War’ displays Mannaerts greatest attributes – her ability to pull you in on a soft vocal cushion, where she proclaims that “our world is gone, did we ever grieve or cry”. A fitting ode to current global chaos and uncertainty, the warmth of the bass provides a crescendo undercurrent that allows the song to build akin to a full blown orchestra. Before you have time to consider that this may be a full track of ambience, the cymbal of Mannaerts drum kit and a quickened guitar lick announce a chaotically delightful breakdown that draws huge comparisons to the mighty Svalbard, before the rip-roaring juggernaut tears and punctures and the song slows again whilst maintaining a colossal sounding wall of noise – live, this song must ignite immediately. Converge and Mutoid Man’s Ben Koller perfectly summed it up on Twitter by stating “Fuck that was great”.

The vocal brooding and sheer range in ‘Django’ dips from more spoken parts perfectly into frenetic vocals, whereas ‘Cemetery’ perfectly enhances Mannaerts craft where she declares “that girl I could never trust her, she’s a fucking wreck; we never were, we never will be best friends”, with the energy coursing through the veins of the listener. It’s impossible to not be blown away by the sheer scale and sonic presence of this band.

‘Techno’ opens with a thumping bass beat atop a spiralling display of lead guitar work, the vocals the cherry on top the cake, a bird’s nest cake if you will. There is a long mid-song interlude where Mannaerts declares she wants to “dance, dance, dance in the big, big city” – her vocals shoegaze in style, the relative calm again being exchanged for a feverish and frenzied conclusion where the vocal round returns for a large end of song scream-along.

The album finishes with ‘Sugar Dragon’ where the blend of bat shit crazy and relative calm are perfectly realised, the hairs on the neck standing tall as Mannaerts sings “she was never ever there”. Brutus save the most vehement of conclusions for an incredibly fitting end to a blissfully raw and energised release. Nest is wonderfully exhausting and a full, unabated assault on the ears. With ‘Nest’, Brutus have stepped it up big time – it is now up to the world to catch-up.

DAVE BULL

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