The first thing that strikes you about US grindcore veterans Brutal Truth’s scorching new album End Time is the departure in style and mood from their relatively cleaner (yet still refreshingly ‘organic’ sounding) Earache-template uber-grind of the past. They’ve clearly decided to mix things up a bit, with the first track Malice starting in an almost ‘doomy’ way, a rumbling soundscape giving way to world-weary slow, pummeling drums, and barks from Kevin Sharp. But when in the past the track might have erupted pretty fast into full-pelt grindcore, the drums merely drag themselves into a broken groove, and the mood of resigned, fucked off bleakness is maintained throughout the track, with no easy pay off. The mood is in fact far more Today is the Day than Napalm Death, and it’s great to see the guys experimenting without losing any of their aggression.
Track two Simple Math however ups the velocity considerably, and a lot of the following tracks on this album are, don’t get me wrong, blindingly fast. It’s just that the album is way outside any genre pigeonholes that people might want for such beloved sub-sects as grindcore. While bands like Napalm Death got slowly more groove-oriented and death metal sounding, Brutal Truth have perhaps remained outside the mainstream, blasting away but not caring about genre norms too much. The production of this album, all warmth and grit, not a clicky bass drum in sight, helps the mood of ‘pure’ aggression really blossom into something solid as an overall statement.
Track 9 Crawling Man Blues may be my favourite, melding slappy, super-fast drumming to really interesting, atonal riffing a la Agoraphobic Nosebleed or Dillinger, but also possessing almost danceable groovy sections. Your mum could tap her toes to this, if she was overdoing the diet pills. Another stand-out in terms of not going down any old furrows, but capturing the sound of a band doing what the hell it wants, is Butcher – a brutal and yet subtle beast. Some have accused this band of being sloppy in the past, but their lack of clinical technical ‘perfection’ is part of what makes them utterly involving. There’s actually a hell of a lot of musicianship going on with this album too, it’s just not churned out by computers, but raging, grumpy (to say the least) old men. Special mention must go to the vocals, which are not exactly intelligible, but delivered in a nearly ‘normal,’ or at least honest, grating way that isn’t just a series of punctuation points, or functioning as another cymbal.
I didn’t have lyrics with the promo copy I received, but I can confidently surmise that Mr Sharp is not singing about the fun to be had eviscerating corpses and worshipping Satan. He seems to be a bit more concerned about answering the imminent demise of the world (which you really can imagine on this truly apocalyptic album) and enslavement in general, with the fairly reasonable solution of demolishing the corrupt old world order, a common theme in the righteous grand tradition of grindcore, of course. But there are a lot of little human touches and idiosyncratic riffs that surface throughout that make this band special, far from going through the motions, not least Sharp shouting ‘Fuck Cancer!’ at the end of the song of that name.
By the time it’s time to Drink Up with the last (proper) track – barring the extended jam that closes things out, we are back to the treacle-think, crestfallen but rocking trudge that opened the album, and things have come full circle. There is no easy payoff, we are in the shit. End Time this may be, and who knows if its Brutal Truth’s last stab, but its one hell of a way to go out.
Scribed by: James Parker