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Album review: Brutai – Born

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Debut albums always make for an exciting review.

Brutai – Born

The first full-length studio release from most groups often leads to an experience that demonstrates a young, vitalised and excited band, more desperate, hungry and adamant than ever to impress a new audience. And Brutai’s upcoming record, Born, is no exception to this belief.

The young, London-based quintet have been building the anticipation for the album ever since February, when they released the melodic single ‘Deep’. Their set on the Sophie Lancaster Stage of the 2016 Bloodstock Festival only fuelled the fire, possibly making Born the most built-up rock debut of 2016.

And as the album’s mighty opener, ‘Relapse’, breaks down into its first primal and slightly proggy riff, any rock fan blessed to know of the existence of Brutai will understand that this release was worth the wait. As the track continues, its most notable aspect is probably the vocals of singer/guitarist Felix Lawrie, who alternates continuously between growled and clean vocals in a very metalcore-esque manner.

However, Brutai’s instrumentation could not be further from the metalcore style. Sonically, the Brutai method mostly feels more reminiscent of avant-garde groups like TesseracT and A Voice Within (2014)-era intervals but, unlike those examples’ progressive tendencies, keeps at a constant pace and feels slightly more balls-to-the-wall. Born feels like melodic djent blended with more consumer-friendly hard rock, placing more emphasis on accessible melodies than mind-bendingly experimental orchestration. It’s a middle ground that is doubtlessly intriguing.

But make no mistake, Brutai is far more than just diet prog. From an outside perspective, the melody seems to be the most important factor in the five-piece’s sound, which is inherently a positive, as Born’s clean moments are far superior to any point with growled vocalisation. Lawrie’s harsh vocals feel somewhat strained – at least when compared to his endlessly enjoyable clean delivery – and the actual music behind them rarely feels heavy enough to justify their existence. If Born was vocally closer to Wovenwar’s self-titled album (2014) and only brought out the screams very, very, very sparingly, the technique would feel more effective.

Luckily for Brutai however, the majority of Born has a more melodic tone. And not only is most of the singing clean as a whistle; so is the production. The man at the helm of Born is the exceptional Matt Hyde, a veteran producer/mixer that has worked on such modern-day masterpieces as Machine Head’s The Blackening (2007), Trivium’s Shogun (2008) and Slipknot’s All Hope Is Gone (2008). The man has shaped some of the best heavy records of the past decade and Born will be another brilliant entry into his CV, as he perfectly captures Brutai and reflects their live sound excellently. The record is ceaselessly crystal clear.

When evaluating Brutai’s full-length debut, it’s difficult to think of any specific, individual highlights; the songs are all primarily delivered in the same tone, featuring semi-progressive riffs with a clean/harsh dichotomy and a pace that very rarely slows. And yet, somehow, the album never once feels repetitive, which is testament to the skills and charisma of the five men performing. Instead, it feels perpetually fluid and constant, skimming along like a catamaran upon a wide ocean.

And such beautiful imagery is appropriate for Born as it is, at its core, a beautiful record, and it is at its best when it blends that artistry with accessible and melodic hard rock. When it tries to go too overboard with its use of growled vocals it may fall flat, but such occurrences do not sour the sheer fun of Born’s harmonic high points.

Born will be available physically and digitally via Transcend Music on 25th November.




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