Brutus – ‘Nest’ (Album Stream + Review)
The three members of Brutus had all played in other Belgian bands before forming their current group (including Starfucker, Musth, and Sixtoys), and they released their very solid debut album Burst back in 2017. So they aren't exactly new faces on the scene, but I won't be surprised if Nest ends up being the kind of breakthrough album that introduces more people to them than ever before. It's easily the best thing they've done yet, and it's the kind of swinging-for-the-fences rock album that you only get a few of a year.
Like their debut, they recorded it with producer Jesse Gander who's best known for working with Japandroids and White Lung, and White Lung is definitely a band that comes to mind when listening to Brutus. Drummer/vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts has a harsh yet melodic roar that can sound like White Lung's Mish Way and the dizzying complexity of guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden's riffs is very similar to that band too. But while White Lung tend to stick to fast-paced punk, Brutus take their sound in countless directions. They've toured with acts as diverse as Chelsea Wolfe, Thrice, and Russian Circles, and could easily appeal to fans of all three of those. They've got the kind of post-metal intensity that Deafheaven fans will dig, but unlike Deafheaven they always stick to clean-sung vocals, upping the accessibility infinitely. Deafheaven's latest album may have gotten a handful of comparisons to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, but Nest is an album that your average Smashing Pumpkins fan might actually like. It's also an album that your average Bikini Kill fan would like (it's hard not to hear hints of "Rebel Girl" in "Cemetery"). It's all over the place, but it works. Brutus are experts at punk, metal, alternative rock, post-hardcore, and post-rock, but never content to commit to just one of them. They can deliver shiny pop melodies as convincingly as they can deliver pure rage (sometimes in the same song, as with "War"). And all three members are virtuosos but not in an annoyingly show-offy way. Stefanie's powerhouse pipes are matched by her intense drumming, and with bassist Peter Mulders she forms the truly pummeling rhythm section. Stijn's leads are face-melting when they need to be, but other times he's just creating an atmosphere that sounds far more massive than you'd expect from an individual guitarist.
You can pick apart all the various things that Brutus do, all the various genres of music they touch on and the various other bands they sometimes sound like. But Brutus stir it all together in a way where it ends up really just sounding like one thing, and on Nest that one thing is unique to Brutus. They still sounded like a product of their influences on Burst, but Nest is truly one of the most original rock albums in recent memory.
Nest is out now on Sargent House. Stream it and watch the live session video for "War" below.