Live Review: Brutus w/ Cassels | The Exchange, Bristol | 04/05/19

It’s a been a fairly quiet few months for the art punk brethren in Cassels (8). With the duo now about to enter the phase of time where they will need to promote their upcoming release, it’s no surprise that the group are firing on all cylinders tonight. Despite their notable absence from the national touring circuit, the duo seem reinvigorated in every sense of the word. Somehow even more sardonic, cynical and culturally misanthropic than ever before, there’s a profound level of focused and calculated urgency and haste within their set this Saturday evening.

Tracks from their debut full length Epithet shiver with excitable yet cynically frustrated energy and tension, with the confessional release that is ‘This Song Has A Name But We Don’t Like To Talk About It’ and the caustic contemporary noise of ‘War Is A Really Clever Metaphor For Divorce’ shivering with reserved restlessness. Whilst such fervent kinetic motion has always been at the very core of the band’s sound, especially live, it’s more evident than ever tonight. The debut of the group’s first instrumental track, an erratic affair that has been teased over social media, further highlights the shivery progression that is set to follow with their new record.

With this sold out crowd certainly being accustomed to contemporary sonic offerings, it’s no surprise that Cassels are going down as an absolute treat tonight. Their two latest singles, ‘A Snowflake In Winter’ and ‘When Completing Handshakes’ reverberate within the confides of the venue, with the mass in attendance savouring the jarring time signatures and jolting walls of noise. Yet, despite the group’s newly bolstered confidence and urgency, it’s clear they still have the same lovable persona. Closing with the adolescent wall of quivering noise that is ‘Hating Is Easy’, it’s evident that Cassels are about to enter the next chapter of their career, one that is certainly set to be fantastic and prosperous.

For the past several years Brutus (9) have been regarded as many as one of the brightest hidden gems of the European prog and post rock scene. A frustratingly backhanded accolade indeed, but judging from this set and the response that their sophomore record Nest recently received, it’s clear Brutus are on the cusp of trading this title for a far more prestigious one. Whilst Brutus have frequently been exalted for their transfixing live shows this set demonstrates that it’s only time before Brutus are hailed as the leaders of the European scene.

Opening with a droning yet ethereal interlude that leads into the monolithic progression of ‘Fire’ and the barbed shoegaze of ‘Cemetery’, one can not help but ask themselves that in what justice could Brutus ever have been classified as a hidden gem. On the back of these two tracks, it’s instantly evident that is set is going to be an utter masterclass of contemporary progression, with front-woman Stefanie Mannaerts’ possessive and transfixing vocals beautifully interweaving with her effortless and dynamically fluid percussion duties.

Newly premiered tracks from Nest compliment Brutus’s continuous growth in a fashion most staggering, with the stampeding nature of ‘Drive’ and the transfixing ‘Justice De Julia II’ bolstering the vocalic adrenaline rush within ‘War’ and ‘Distance’. There are moments of celestial and divine beauty within this set, with a flawless rendition of ‘Space’ flooding the Bristolian venue with transcendent warmth and divine fervour. Truly, every part of this set is an absolute delight to bare witness to. Brutus captivate the sold out crowd before them almost effortlessly, driving every punter within the confines of this room into a state of possessed euphoria.

Despite the group’s work being deeply intricate and multilayered, the trio swerve through their set flawlessly. Charging through the likes of ‘Distance’, ‘Techno’ and the fan favourite ‘All Along’, the trio demonstrate a level of musicianship and prowess rarely seen on a level such as this. Ending with the triumphantly haunting ‘Sugar Dragon’, a simply colossal track documenting the timeless tale of love lost against a wall of turbulent shoegaze and post rock, it’s the perfect way to close this fantastic set. With the shimmering wall of noise fading into a rapturous round of appraise, tonight has served as a wonderful night of left field invention courtesy of two brilliant acts who deserve to be showered with perpetual appraise.


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