Brutal Truth released Sounds of the Animal Kingdom, their last studio album before breaking up, in a time of guiltless euphoria and reverie of an unspecified source. The content of the album, however, could not have been less in keeping with the times. Sounds stands, in my view at least, as one of the more unsettling cultural artifacts of the 1990s; even for grindcore it’s disturbing. Its suffocated production, detours from post-human aggression into post-industrial noise, and overall apocalyptic worldview, and especially its title and cover art makes it the sonic equal of John Gray’s Straw Dogs. This is not a new assessment of the album, but however unique it may have been it wasn’t considered a profound deviation from standard grindcore fare and any overwrought poo-pooing was no more than sour grapes in the optimistic Clinton era. But this begs the question: can a more than normally compelling Negative Nancy still be compelling after all the negative nitpicking he talked about in the past had happened? It’s one thing to take the prophetic route in times of perceived peace, in fact it’s easy. Whether the intentions of a particular human are well meaning or dubious, their actions are not human without ending in a certain amount of bloodshed. It is, however, altogether different when one creates a work of art with a like-minded animosity in times following instances of major catastrophe that may or may not bring certain destruction within arms’ reach.
Evolution Through Revolution makes itself known with the intensity of a sudden emotional breakdown. While this is not an entirely new concept in regards to this genre, Brutal Truth seems more interested in stripping down songs to their barest emotional impact as opposed to most other bands that, as of late, take technicality as their highest priority. Brutal Truth is a band not known for showing a lack of imagination, at least since Need To Control, and at first blush it would seem that they’ve turned their idea surplus into a deficit, and it does seem that way. Overall, the songs burst into motion with fierce punk-cum-death metal riffs, occasionally veering off into some amelodic effects as it does in between verses on the title track. Fans of the blast beat will, of course, not be disappointed as the pound primitively but efficiently, complemented by Dan Lilker’s solid bass work. The most intense feature, however, is Kevin Sharp’s vocals, though the style remains as rabid as it’s ever been, the polished production brings out the rough detail of its viciousness and gives off the feeling of being uncomfortably close to the listener. He was confined and claustrophobic in Animal Kingdom, but now he is free. While things do sound less warped than in the past, I should think that this is not a creative dry spell but some extension of the horror of life, even if it was done without intention and rather done simply to sound fucking tight and badass, which it also does, particularly in regards to the cover of The Minutemen’s “Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs.”
Though the record’s title conveys a kind of visceral optimism, pessimists will find the naked brutality of its content adequate to their view of the state of things. Since it is presumed that the rattling of sabers, the depletion of precious resources, and the setting ablaze of money are slowly but consistently dismantling western and eastern civilization then it would leave man with a simplistic lens to view life and cope with damage. Brutal Truth has captured a state of internal panic preoccupied primarily with survival. This album could serve as a candidate to be sonic equal to The Road. It has been my thinking that if bands take inspiration from the lowliest aspects of the human condition, it would be conveyed best by taking classic hardcore structure and enhancing it with genuine ferocity. Black Flag sounds fine enough with middle class angst, but imagine how it would sound when times got desperate and logic ventures far beyond the pale. Brutal Truth is well on their way to achieving that. Much is mere speculation of course, but given their ambitions in the past, one can’t help but assume that even some of the madness of the times has infected their songwriting process even now. Outside of all that, Brutal Truth has still managed to deliver a blistering effort of aggression and precision that offers evidence that grindcore still has a pulse.
Gridlink – Amber Grey
Napalm Death – Smear Campaign
Pig Destroyer – Phantom Limb