The shape of punk to come . . . has arrived

For those of you old enough to understand how mind-bending the next phrase is, Brutus began life as a Refused tribute band. That's the sort of thing sly writers throw into their works to see who's paying attention (and who knows what's what).

(Sargent House)

Brutus doesn't ape Refused. Rather, it applies that band's technical dissonance and chaotic arrangements to the sort of metallic prog best exemplified by the Mars Volta. This Belgian trio sure knows how to wring the last bit of energy and emotion out of this highly-crafted and blisteringly-performed fare.

Stefanie Mannaerts drums and sings, and her vocal range is pretty amazing. She can come in from almost anywhere and take the song to another world. The pile-driving (yet ultra-clean) riffage adds to the disconnect. Listening to this really does make me feel like I'm on another planet.

The ambition of Brutus is apparent from the very beginning. But its greatness doesn't reveal itself immediately. It's one thing to create an arresting sound, but quite another to create memorable songs. About halfway through, there's that "Holy shit!" moment when you realize you're listening to something that might actually change the world. I guess Brutus did steal that from Refused. That's cool by me.

Jon Worley

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