For many curious listeners, social media is likely the first destination when conducting personal research on an artist. Whereas many acts use the platform to host long and convoluted biographies on their endeavours and efforts, Brutus opt to host a single sentence; “Trouble Comes In Threes, So Does Brutus”. This is how Brutus establish themselves to new potential followers. It’s effective, it’s provocative and depending on your outlook, it’s an invitation. In essence, it’s the perfect motif for this extraordinary act, a sentiment their devoted followers can atest to. Since their inception, the Belgium three piece have received pundits from on high from press and fans alike, even receiving commendation from members of Metallica and Biffy Clyro. Lofty tributes indeed, but for those still ignorantly skeptical of the group’s talent, Nest, their respective sophomore record, is set wipe away all remaining cynicism.
To the record Nest, Brutus once again travelled to Rain City Recordings in Vancouver, the birthplace of the dynamic sound that was contained with their debut. A far cry from the pastures of their home turf, but it appears that Rain City is home to some incredible energy indeed. Nest contains the formative dynamism that made Burst an incredible and engaging listen in the first place, with the trio once again tapping into some form of creative and ancient power to once again create a record that pushes the walls of post-metal. As the distant winds of opener ‘Fire’ trail into an almighty cavernous hurricane of sound, it’s clear that this collective of musicians are all dipping into the same energy. The tribalistic drumming and pulsating and distant fretwork of ‘Django’ only drives this sentiment home further. Amidst the flexing backbone of post-metal, the ethereal and sweeping vocals of frontwoman Stefanie Mannaerts curl and dance freely.
Whilst Burst was an ever so spasmodic and unpredictable beast at times, there’s a certain level of restraint within this record. Brutus are no strangers to issues impeding their plans, with Mannaerts only taking up vocal duties out of pure necessity for example. However, there’s an air of vulnerability, mental frustration and acknowledgement of their physical limitations looming on this record. It’s the sound of an act who have began to address the fact that the invincibility of youth fades with the marching of time. There’s grievance within this album, with such sentiments acting as the fuel that drives the record forward. However, this just makes the record all the more engaging, captivating and human. The ancient prog and post metal foundation quakes with authentic emotion and the shimmering waterfalls of shoegaze and reverb glisten with passion.
Throughout the looming sonic frustration and melancholia there’s moments of sonic euphoria and triumph. The tender picking and introspective whispering of ‘War’ unfolds into a blistering battle of metallic fretwork that settles as the melancholic and angelic highs of Mannaerts fly alongside reverberating shimmering. Each track sounds like a warzone of the mind; it’s personal, dynamic, shifting and impossible to pinpoint. Even the more agnostic, confrontational tracks featured within this release, such as the arresting and climatic wailing of ‘Cemetery’ and the borderline blackgaze stampede of ‘Horde V’, are fuelled by the dynamic human condition. There’s times where the record hints at mental clarity, such as the star dotted splendour of ‘Space’ but these moments are few and far between. As soon as you begin to breathe and unwind you’re jolted awake and thurst back into the progressive and jarring turbulence of Nest.
However, there is comfort at the end of this journey. Closer ‘Sugar Dragon’ is a pleasant saga of a track, one at explores the exhaustion and agony that is the product of toxic relationships. Aurally, it’s the perfect closer for this record. Ebbing and flowing between tender, yet towering majestic walls of celestial sound, personal introspection and thunderous, rapturous sonic blast beats, it’s impossible to predict the trajectory of this 8 minute journey. Much like the human condition and the emotions that control us, it’s an entity that can’t be controlled.
In all, Nest is a towering achievement. It amplifies and further explores the human condition that is at the very heart of Brutus’ craft whilst condensing their trademark progressivism into a cohesive fashion that can be approached by newcomers to the post-metal realm. Whilst countless punters have been claiming that Brutus are on their way to greater sense of success of greater things, this will be the record to propel them there.
Nest is released Friday 29th March via Hassle Records