Belgian trio Brutus mash heart, emotion into heavy, tumultuous second record, infectious ‘Nest’

When hearing a record for the first time (or the 100th), no one should have to tell you whether the band’s hearts and souls are in the music. That’s something you should just feel. It should be as apparent as anything because emotion is obvious when it comes to music, and when artists spill buckets of that into their sound, you can’t help but be blown back.

Belgian band Brutus leave no doubt whether they live, breathe, sweat, and bleed every ounce of their music. It should only take mere minutes into the band’s great second record “Nest” to give you the answer. These 11 songs burst with power, melody, and pure, genuine feeling, fueled by vocalist/drummer Stefanie Mannaerts forceful, infectious singing, and backed by guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden and bassist Peter Mulders. The band pours all sorts of elements into their sound from metal to doom to punk to hardcore to even some pop strains, and it makes them a really tough beast to classify if you’re trying to describe them. Maybe don’t worry about that. Their music is to be experienced and not put into words (um, even though I’m about to do that), and this record is a massive jolt into the spring that’ll get your blood racing in your veins.

“Fire” kicks off the record with jangling guitars and noises hovering as the vocals explode with power. “I’m breaking your walls down,” Mannaerts wails as the track blazes with melody and power, as she finally pleads, “I need water on me now.” “Django” has a punchy tempo and melodic gaze, with wordless howls charging up and the track chugging, with Mannaerts insisting, “I’m never going to leave your house.” “Cemetery” has shouted vocals, a louder attack, and the drums utterly bashing with the guitars swelling into a cloud. The vocals crash into the scene, delivering emotion and tumult as it comes to an end. “Techno” is my personal favorite on here, opening with jabbing bass that hints to something coming later before the guitars open up and glimmer, as Mannaerts calls, “This is my last chance.” The track calms a bit, with Mannaerts declaring, “I want to dance in a big, big city,” a refrain that returns later when the volume and playing explode with energy. “Carry” is a little poppier in the front, blasting ahead and delivering another push of powerful bursts of singing, guitars gazing with bright lights, and the back-end crushing chests.

“War” starts clean and pulled back with the singing echoing and the playing drawing at your heart. “Unleash your war,” Mannaerts demands before the song blows open, the intensity strikes, and the guitars crash land, helping deliver spiritual bloodshed. “Blind” begins with guitars cascading, the tempo landing blows, and the drums turning bones into dust. “There’s nothing left!” Mannaerts howls over a poppy tempo and the track’s last gashes. “Distance” opens with a killer riff before the music sweeps over a wider path, and added colors rush to the surface. “Make our time longer,” Mannaerts pleads as the track ends with drops of blood crashing to the ground. “Space” has a bit of a pop-punk edge, especially vocally, but then darker guitars arrive and simmer, as the body bubbles along. The track is equally sugary and shadowy as it stretches out to its end. “Horde V” is faster and rowdier, with the drums splitting nerve endings and a melodic wave sweeping in and swallowing everything whole. The music rallies as the track builds, breaking through walls and coming to a huge, fiery end. “Sugar Dragon” ends the album at 7:44, and it is solemn as it arrives. The track has a slower, hurting pace, with Mannaerts wailing, “When you say my name, I’m lost.” The music rains down as the pain is released, getting murky and more devastating as it goes. The song explodes with power and bleeds with tumult, as the tide gets larger and larger, the emotion spills one more time, and the record ends on a heart-blistering crescendo.

There’s no questioning Brutus’ heart and emotions that are fully on display with “Nest,” and that’s obvious from the moment the music attacks your ears. This is an easy band to get behind, one you want to see reach the stratosphere because you can tell they mean every ounce of this, and it’s infectious as hell. They might not be the heaviest or most brutal, but Brutus is a band that always will give you everything they have and won’t leave you with any questions of their intent or false impressions.

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