Thrash Hits

January 16th, 2012

Live: Brutality Will Prevail @ Manchester Star & Garter – 11 January 2012

Brutality Will Prevail promo photo Thrash Hits

Samuel Breen to Raziq Rauf:

“Hey Raz,
I’m thinking about going to Brutality Will Prevail tonight in Manchester. Would you like a review? Guess it’s up Thrash Hits street.
xoxo”

Raziq Rauf to Samuel Breen

“hey Sam
that’s funny because I literally just finished reviewing the London show for Metal Hammer this minute! yes I’d love a review. check out Harm’s Way as well – they are excellent.
razx”

Apart from Raziq’s impressive refusal to start sentences with an upper case character, you may notice how ignorant/casj (delete as appropriate) I was, WRT Brutality Will Prevail. Having now seen them live I’m ashamed of such apathy.

@samuelbreen: @raziqrauf …I couldn’t be more confused
@raziqrauf: @samuelbreen: Can not wait for this review.

It’s worth noting how bewildered I was throughout the whole gig. Something which came to a head during Harm’s Way. In fear that I was having a breakdown, I left half way through their set.

Six things I discovered when Brutality Will Prevail came to Manchester:

1) The task of integrating dispersive ideas into one, lucid all-encompassing sound is no minor task. Brutality Will Prevail have overcome the challenge at the expense of their extremities. Instead of taking their epic structures into episodic territory, then attempting to amalgamate them through a sonic narrative – climaxes, textures, velocity, etc. – they have shied away, preferring distilled drama, and more illusive pleasures.

2) From the offset they are ferocious, with singer, xAjayx, at full tilt throughout. However, what they have reduced their set to, is less exposition of their potential, more half-baked idea of what they can achieve in such a small ‘second support’ window. The slow sections are meticulous, the two guitars working together with astounding grace. There’s no doubt that BWP have mastered their trade in many respects. Far from an over-simplification, tonight the structure of their songs is pure alchemy. Always looking forward, always retaining momentum and never revealing their cards prematurely. This humane, controlled approach prominently rears its head in the vocals. Singer, xAjayx, projects wild range: from guttural cries and coarse ear-splitters, to breathless whispers and inaudible gasps. Sentences are left broken and wretched as his voice evaporates between his lips and the microphone. At first it sounded affected, then tragic, but the realisation is that it is him, standing naked before you, self-effacing in order to show humanity.

3) The opening segment of their set is a call to arms but without flying the flag. Beyond their laconic pace, they create a homogeny of energy, slowly weaving their style into the music, singer and lead guitarist float on a wave of heart-stopping energy, refraining from lacquering on style, allowing the band to work up the momentum – to create a peak for them to jump off. It’s naturalistic, kinetic, and jaw-droppingly enigmatic. When lead and vocals come in, it’s worth pointing out that there’s a certain degree of overkill, not sonically but physically. With the music so naturalistic, there needn’t be machoistic braggadocio. Indeed, it detracts from the humanity of the breadth, and panders to the crowd.

4) It’s not until they drop the tempo completely and present a stripped down minimal melody. With layers seeping through the sound and guitars pulling the sound outwards in sluggish, ‘turn an oil-tanker’ fashion, the music takes off. This sleek hybrid of psychedelic blues performed with a frenetic Metal mindset cuts through the listener. If all the posturing and flailing in the previous tracks was designed for these sparse, intoxicating moments then Brutality Will Prevail are, in Charlie Sheen’s words, “#winning”.

5) A couple of more superficial points now. I’d like to establish that I’m in no way a Hardcore native, so any cries of “Shut-up, you don’t know what you’re talking about!” would be a perfectly valid retort. With regards to slamming, ‘kung fu moshing’ or Hardcore dancing, I can’t believe how much it affected the gig. For instance, by the time Harm’s Way came on stage the front two thirds of the room were vacated for the pit with the vast majority of the crowd cowering at the back, at the convenience of half a dozen individuals. Now I appreciate that fans will always go to extreme levels to display their devotion in plain sight of the band (have you been to a Justin Bieber concert? Neither have I, but you get the point) but in certain venues this is to the major detriment of the vast majority of the audience who don’t want to follow suit, which is where the Bieber comparison falls-short. The brilliant singer of Broken Teeth praised local crowds for being void of ‘bullshit’ but surely this display of territorial chest-thumping egomania, entrenched in tradition and symbolism is part and parcel to ‘bullshit’? [I’d appreciate it if your responses are more than just “no dickhead, you’re bullshit!”] Watching the gig from down the front, the Hardcore equivalent of Sea World’s “Splash Zone” I took a couple of knocks, some harder than others. I’ll get over it but down the front the band were storming it. With the crowd at the back there was no interaction between the two, the feeling from the crowd was anything but warm. They were, I’d hazard to say, cut off from the performance. Something I find indefensible.

6) The other point is that Manchester is storming it at the moment. Crowds are good, even on pissing-wet, mid-week gigs. It is astounding. However there’s a theme developing of people applauding themselves right now. From experience, as soon as this happens the party starts to wind down.

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