25th November 2016 - Transcend Music
03. Of Ashes
06. Never Change
07. Dear Emily
08. Over Now
10. The Border
A lot can happen in three years. It was back in 2013 that a (relatively) fresh faced Brutai first piqued our interest with their self-titled debut EP. Those five songs showed a considerable amount of promise and it’s clear that, in the interim, the band have been working hard to deliver on it.
These three years have also seen a fair degree of change in the composition of the band itself, with only frontman Felix Lawrie and fellow guitarist Henry Ryan remaining from when they recorded the EP. It has, however, been a gradual process of change. First came the addition of Alex Lorimer, throwing live keyboards and backing vocals into the mix. In late 2014, the drumsticks were handed to Mathieu Bauer and the effect on the band’s live sound was immediate and dramatic. Finally, long-time bassist Mike Crouchman stood down and Christian Burgess stepped in.
The main result of all these changes was a much broader palette from which Brutai could draw their sounds, which coupled with a more mature songwriting approach has resulted in a debut full-length that both stays true to the original template laid down on the 2013 EP and opens up a whole world of new possibilities.
This comes as no great surprise. As well as the steadily more self-assured live performances, “Never Change” was released as a single all the way back in December 2013, followed by “Relapse” in October 2014. So far, so good. Then a very noticeable gear change came in February 2016, with the release of the first ‘proper’ lead single for Born, “Deep“. Whilst the previous two tracks had been pleasing progressions of the band’s sound, “Deep” was something of a watershed moment. Whilst there has always been a melodic element to Brutai’s sound, “Deep” carries an unashamedly poppy chorus with ‘instant earworm’ stamped all over it.
However, this embrace of the instantly accessible has not come at the expense of the heavy. Indeed, even within “Deep” itself, these pop melodies and harmonies sit snugly alongside full-bore throat-shredding ‘traditional’ vocals, highlighting Felix’s versatility. In turn, “Deep” acts as a kind of microcosm of Born as a whole – no other song manages quite the same juxtaposition in themselves, but they sit along this spectrum between the poppy and the heavy and, as a result, the album feels very well balanced.
What’s more, even with this diversity of sound, each track is still firmly stamped with Brutai’s identity. With the tracklisting including a somewhat wistful “Dear Emily” and some Devin Townsend style riffing (backed up with some excpetional drumwork from Mathieu) in “Of Ashes“, this is something close to a magic trick. Born is brought to a rousing conclusion by “The Border“, complete with a truly epic, Tesseract-vibed chorus.
Whilst maybe not quite diverse enough to fall into the ‘something for everyone’ category, the scope of these songs is still broad enough for it to make sense that Brutai have appeared on bills with Soilwork and Devil You Know, as well as popping up at Tech Fest and Euroblast. The harsher vocals do feel like a bit of an anachronism, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they fall out of the mix in subsequent releases.
As it stands, Born neatly sets up Brutai as a force to be reckoned with in the thriving UK progressive metal scene, and those who like their riffs balanced with hooks will find much to enjoy here.