I believe that grindcore is the sonic language of modernity – or post-post-modernity, if you will. I believe this because Brutal Truth, still the genre’s most vibrant flyer of its banner, believe this and record accordingly. What took root with Sounds of the Animal Kingdom in 1997 exploded with greater violence with Evolution Through Revolution 12 years later, and now they intend to press the point all the more with End Time, quite possibly their least subtle album title to date. The album, so far as I can gather, is united by a theme and an atmosphere rather than under the umbrella of a strict concept, but it is clear that the messianic urge of the band has not dulled, nor has their musical prowess, more importantly. But does it deliver the message as well as they’ve been able to in the past?
At 21 tracks, End Time provides more than a fair share of blast beats, scintillating guitars, callous vocals and even some feedback here and there. And as with previous efforts, the Truth diversify their heaviness. The opening track “Malice” and “The Warm Embrace of Poverty” are groove-infused dirges, whereas “Small Talk” embraces once more their hardcore ancestry, and “Lottery” has elements of thrash with a mid-tempo groove which gives greater focus to the technical guitar work. All that aside, however, End Time is a session of back-to-basics evil. They continue to blast from their amplifiers a power similar to that contained in God’s fist, which can punch a hole through the earth and tear at the edge of the universe as if it were wrapping paper. That is to be expected, as is the overall bleakness of their vision. It does deliver a message with great effect, but it is not exactly the right message.
The experience of this album has resulted in me being driven more to their earlier efforts, namely Sounds of the Animal Kingdom and Need to Control, both of which deserve all the enshrinement they are receiving from “hip” metal magazines like Decibel. Not only do they represent, to me, the creative peak of both the band and their genre(s), but they are iconic products of the post-Cold War American counterculture. The Clinton age in which both the albums were released was a time of great tranquility and prosperity in America, but the albums tore through that façade with an urgency, anxiety and ferocity that matched hypertension and self-loathing of the baby boomers who collectively terrorized the outside world and the lower classes in the pursuit of having it in all ways, regardless of what it was at any given moment.
Brutal Truth, like Christopher Lasch before them, were right. And yet now we are in the very times of which they warned, and while on the surface that would call for additional hellfire sermonizing, perhaps tinged with a little “I told you so” gloating, but that overlooks the larger point that the time is altogether different from the time of Sounds of the Animal Kingdom, which plays host to different problems, different anxieties and different values. The bright future of America is growing ever dimmer, and even if it does recover it, compulsion to call attention to itself, for good or ill, will not be enabled with rising superpowers coming to the fore. It is a hard-dare I say brutal-truth for the proud Americans to accept, but acceptance is the order of the day-acceptance or suicide. The new Need to Control would be an album not for encapsulating rage but for the final moments of coming to terms with defeat before a self-drowning. Some may still want to rage, and rage they will, but what good is rage when it is essentially against ghosts?
Pig Destroyer – Terrifyer
Nasum – Inhale/Exhale
Extreme Noise Terror – Retro-Bution