Monday, 8 July 2013

Brutus - Behind the Mountains (album review)

Cover artwork by Maarten Donders
I first heard Norwegian retro rockin' stoner quintet Brutus when I found their video and put it on the Hour of Power about a month back.  You see folks, things like that are as much for my sake as they are for yours!  Since that time, the entire internet world hasn't been able to shut up about this band as anticipation began to build and the tension I felt towards ending that bleak period of my life that shall henceforth forever be known as "Brutus-less" was eating me up inside.  What's so amazing about these guys?  Aren't they just another Scandanavian retro rock band?  Yeah, basically, but also, not so much.  Permit me to try to demonstrate ...

Brutus just want to have fun, BUT, Brutus are also chased by demons; a darkness which they embrace and add fully to their music.  Thankfully however, that darkness doesn't manifest itself in morbid navel-gazing and boring pip-squeaky melancholia.  Even as the band is worried, hurried and harried through the dark forest, they're still crushing beer cans on their foreheads, belly belching like men do and generally causing whatever amounts of mischief and havoc as possible.

Their larger-than-life riffs weave between dead trees, chased through tall grass by a lasso swinging death's headed figure of doom on horseback.  Flirting with doom and coming out laughing like wild men, Brutus ends up looking like a group of deep woods survivors, edgy attitudes and etched faces.  The moods the band displays are all over the map, reflecting the rhythms of life, they have sides to match all scenes one may find oneself in, and provides the perfect soundtrack thereof.  I love the dark, dark overcast skies feel as stormclouds gather over creepy mansions on "Blue Pills" or as larvae-bearing ghost ships sail over dry land dropping their overflowing payload as they go on "Reflections".  But if it's the fun-and-sun filled, cruising with the top down getaway moments you're looking for, there's always "Big Fat Boogie" and "Personal Riot".  Or maybe you've already arrived at your destination, hot dogs on the end of sticks, sun going down or are simply looking for a good back porch stomper, well "Square Headed Dog"s got you covered there as well.  Do you plan on scaling the precarious face of a mountain in the deep forest with an escaped lab experiment gone wrong nipping at your heels?  Well "Mystery Machine" is the perfect tension building soundtrack to that exact scenario too.  Who knows, it might give you that extra boost you need to escape, heels intact.  It might even save your life.

Image courtesy of Dice Magazine.
But maybe not.  Basically, 'Behind the Mountains' is a handy album to bring around to maypole dances by day or ensorcelled orgies round the old hanging tree by night.  It both establishes and matches the mood of each event at different times.

Music was just better in the olden daze and Brutus number among the legions of Scandanavians who say "fuck it" and don't bother to update a sound, they just drive a stake through it and roast it with orange amps. Mmm, tasty!  What can I say to convince you that this band is better than all the other Scandanavian "retro rock" bands out there?  Nothing, nor would I want to.  Each one is different.  Brutus may be the most unique sounding of the bunch.  There's not any one or two specific bands that you could point to from bygone days, who this band uses as a point of reference or sounds like (well ... maybe Sabbath, but yeah, no two bands).  Theirs is an original sound never bordering on infringement.  As a matter of fact, it may be time to trash the well-worn label 'retro' regarding these lads and slap upon their rubber-burning bumper the fresh appellation of 'throwback'.  Yes folks, there is a difference!

Highlights include: "Personal Riot" and "Blue Pills"

Rating: 4.5/5

1). The Witches Remains (4:58)
2). Personal Riot (3:54)
3). Big Fat Boogie (3:43)
4). Blue Pills (6:11)
5). Square Headed Dog (4:39)
6). Mystery Machine (3:48)
7). Crystal Parrot (4:13)
8). Reflections (6:56)
9). Can't Help Wondering Why (6:41)
Total Run Time: 44:59

From: Paris, France

Genre: 'Throwback' Rock, Doom, Blues

Reminds me of: Kadavar, Witchcraft, Year of the Goat

Release Date: June 14, 2012

Better Reviews:
The Sleeping Shaman
Ech(((o)))es and Dust

Brutus on facebook


OR HERE (digital)

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