Legendary New York grinders Brutal Truth are back with their second full-length studio album since their reformation in 2006. Unfortunately, as with most big bands that are into the nth year of their career, even the mighty Brutal Truth is not exempted from the our-first-few-albums-were-still-arguably-the-best syndrome. When it comes to this syndrome, the other band that immediately pops to mind is everybody’s favorite Floridan death metal group, Morbid Angel. Well, the only difference is that Morbid Angel experiments with a slightly different style on every new record (with the only exception being the more recent Illud Divinum Insanus, which featured a HUGE and controversial change in style from all previous albums), whereas Brutal Truth follows their grind faith very zealously, never straying too far off the hate-filled and speed-crazed musical path they have chosen.
Perhaps the one biggest notable little detail about Brutal Truth’s current style which I am going to nitpick about is the fact that vocalist Kevin Sharp no longer utilizes deep, throaty death growls like he did on Brutal Truth’s earliest records under Earache. Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses and Need To Control were both excellent deathgrind masterpieces of the early ‘90s, but Brutal Truth left Earache after releasing these two records under them and joined Relapse, another label that was and still is famous for signing grindcore acts.
Apparently, they were frustrated with Earache (creative differences, maybe?) and felt more at home with Relapse. But ever since they got on Relapse, they dropped the “death” in “deathgrind” and have been playing pure grindcore. As a result, gone are the sharp contrasts between Sharp’s throaty growls and rapid-fire shrieks. We don’t hear much of the mid-paced groovy guitar passages anymore (as can be heard on the last half of “Ill Neglect” off their first album), and gone is the crusty sound Brutal Truth used to possess. Sharp perpetually does a cross between a shout and a shriek these days, the instrumentals are mostly blazingly fast noise attacks that typically lead into uninspiring short melodies, and the guitars sound as sterile as a surgeon’s scalpel can be. If the Brutal Truth we hear on Relapse now is what they had really wanted to sound like in the first place—and not the excellent incarnation we heard on Earache so many years ago—then, well, someone ought to kidnap Colin Richardson and make him their producer again.
Following typical grindcore tradition, this record packs a respectable 23 tracks that clock in a total of 54½ minutes, but wait—54½ minutes? Doesn’t that seem a tad bit too long? Well, this is largely caused by the existence of the last track, “Control Room”, which is a little over 15 minutes long and also an extremely pointless instrumental track trying to masquerade as a bad cover of a SunnO))) piece. The first track, “Malice”, and the penultimate track, “Drink Up”, both seem to be trying to sound like a slow and doom-ish intro and a semi-outro respectively, but all they achieve is the ability to make themselves sound like they are two parts of one longer song from which they were divided. Out of the other 20 tracks, the only ones worth mentioning are “Old World Order” and “Butcher” for containing the most memorable melodies, and the five-seconds-long “Trash” for just being there simply because of the plain fact that every grindcore record usually tries to include its own “You Suffer” (by Napalm Death) or “Collateral Damage” (off of Brutal Truth’s first album).
While Brutal Truth still manages to convey their brutality and energy through technical mastery and chaotic sonic assaults on “End Time”, they have lost their edge in the musicality department by not coming up with as many groovy hooks as they used to do two decades ago. Their somewhat experimental attempt at incorporating noise and doom elements at the start and end is commendable, but otherwise sticks out like a sore thumb against the cornucopia of traditional grind attacks in between. Overall not a record that should get many metal heads excited, one would be better off going back to Brutal Truth’s Earache days and remember why they were da shit back in the early ‘90s. For fresh and good grindcore acts of today, check out young bands like Wormrot and Total F**king Destruction (side project of Brutal Truth drummer, Richard Hoak) instead.