Review: Shatter Brain ‘Pitchfork Justice’

There’s something in the water over in Australia, something that’s making the Australians produce some incredible heavy music, with insane releases in recent years from Disentomb, Pyscroptic and Portal to name a few. They’ve been smashing it when it comes to innovative heavy music. So what happens when members of different well known groups get together to produce something new?  …. Well Shatter Brain happens! Featuring members from Voros and Alkira, Shatter Brain play a hybrid of thrash, grind, sludge and punk. There is some serious crossover vibes and Pitchfork Justice is their debut record, so grab your barbeque, shotgun a few beers and lets party!

Shatter Brain ‘Pitchfork Justice’

First things first…that artwork! Looks like the great Ed Repka could have produced it himself. It reminds me of all those great 80s and 90s death and thrash metal album covers that I cherish so dear. I’m immediately drawn in and I haven’t heard a note, so props to Steve Lehmann for that.

Right, let’s get to the music… The record kicks off with Talk In Fear and you can immediately hear the influence from groups like Sadus, Exhorder and Suicidal Tendencies. It’s a real fun start. I love how high the drums are in the mix; they’re really commanding and drive the song forward alongside this crunching riff. Vocalist Tom Santamaria breaks through the noise and starts laying down some crazy diverse vocals, ranging from metalcore esque screams to low gutturals and to cleans, this guy has range! The lyrics are a commentary on freedom of speech and the track has this great hook with a Kirk Windstein esque vocal style ‘SWALLOWING THE WORDS THAT YOU RAM DOWN MY THROAT’. It’s super catchy and won’t leave your head for days.

Up next is Lorem Ipsum which is notably quicker and starts off with this 80s thrash feel. Think Fabulous Disaster era Exodus and then chuck in some Cro Mag style gang shouts into the mix, and then more vocal acrobatics from Santamaria. It’s a really fun start to the record. The track fizzles out and this weird spoken word piece introduces you to title track Pitchfork Justice. It’s quickly business as usual. The track starts with what feels like a homage to Slayers Mandatory Suicide before carving riffs and bullying bass lines amp things up alongside drummer Ryan Quarrington riding the symbol. It makes me wish I had hair again, absolute head banger of a track.

Choosing Beggars kicks off with some James Hetfield style singing (yeah you read that right). Thank god the drums don’t sound like Lars Ulrich. This track has a much more sludgy feel with drawn out riffs that are downright pummelling ‘strained neck muscle’ type of fun, before changing up and finishing with this faded out Jerry Cantrell style riff. The album keeps ploughing on, chopping and changing up, as there’s an awful lot of ideas being thrown about.

Fencesitter is this romping death metal influenced ripper that has this killer solo about half way through, man, 17 year old me would love to skate to this.

Fencesitter is this romping death metal influenced ripper that has this killer solo about half way through, man, 17 year old me would love to skate to this. We’re just over the half way mark and I’ve been eviscerated by so many ideas and different sounds being thrown into the mix. It’s a lot to take in; will they keep this up the whole way through?

Spoiler alert…Yes. Yes they will. Nobel Savagery is a notable change of pace with its chugging riffs and mid pitched screamed vocals alongside some more gutturals and gang vocals. It’s hard to keep track of where Tom is on this. When I first heard the record I thought it had two vocalists, which is quite the compliment.

Silent Screams is my clear highlight of the record, reducing the tempo and slowly building up into a crunching riff and shrill screaming section before it’s flipped upside down, now wait a minute… as it then introduces you to a new and completely different sound with this Alice In Chains grunge style verse which is really washed out, and then finishing the track with grindcore esque blasts accompanied by black metal harmonies. I know, I know this sounds weird. It strangely works and it’s my favourite track on the album.

After Life Ephemeral, a short instrumental track, the albums rounded out with Death Goes On, an all-out homage to thrash metal which’ll tear your denim cut-off straight off your back. For a debut record I’m pretty impressed. The guys sound natural together and it’s a well put together record. Personally I was a little put off with the sheer amount going on in the record. The amount of ideas, sounds, influences and hairpin turns in veracity left me a little lost at times. The album also falls foul of drawing out the tracks a little too long. They’d pack more of a punch if they were a little more compact like their grindcore contemporaries. 

However, negative points aside. I came into this record a complete novice. I wasn’t aware of the groups that made up Shatter Brain but I’m certainly going to check them out. There are some clearly enjoyable parts of this record and I think a lot of people will enjoy it. I think they can only improve and take what they learned with this record to hone it into a more cohesive and tighter sound.

Label: WormHoleDeath
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Matt Alexander