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After cutting his teeth in Anthrax, making lots of noise with S.O.D., and finding hardcore/metal stardom with Nuclear Assault, bassist Dan Lilker was not satisfied. He was a man with his ear always pressed to the underground of metal and punk, and always aligned with the most virulent music each genre had to offer. Thus he created Brutal Truth, a band that could provide him with the sonically malevolent freedom his previous outfits had not. And so after an EP release (Ill Neglect) the band visited their noisy debut upon a skeptical audience. Much like the other Earache label bands Lilker admired, Brutal Truth was at this stage, simply a very proficient grindcore band. With bass-quaking vocals from Kevin Sharp and beyond the speed of light drumming from Scott Lewis, Brutal Truth were perhaps the most technically perfect grind band ever assembled. One could see this perfection as having a sterile sort of vibe, but two things keep this at bay. First off the songs here are remarkable, belying their overload of extremity with well-crafted riffs and structures. “Birth Of Ignorance” and “Anti-Homophobe” bear this out amongst the album’s longer tracks, while total speed monsters like “Walking Corpse” and the unbelievably fast “Stench Of Prophet” retain memorable qualities despite their total wash of brutality. Secondly the production (by grindcore vet Colin Richardson) is perfect, capturing all of the band’s savage power in a clear but non-slick audio broth. From here, Brutal Truth would become altogether more experimental, which paid off for the band in artistic, if not always commercial terms. But at this point, few could hope to challenge the grindcore insanity they possessed.
The biggest problems with this album are the fact that it came three or four years too late and secondly, in a way it sounded way too proffessional and contrived. I remember this thing coming out, seeing a video on MTV and a friend of mine brought it with him when visiting me. I thought it was nice, but just like most other nineties second wave grindcore bands coming from the US it was just too polished.
Furthermore not all songs are equally good here. One could say the album has a lot of variation for a grindcore release but I feels more like the band is having difficulties deciding between death metal and grindcore. For a death metal band most songs would be too simple or short, and by grindcore standards there are way too many slow paced section or bad boy riffs to keep the album intense or aggressive.
Also, as said, the real pioneers of grind and death had already settled down or evolved. Furthermore the underground powerviolence and noise scenes were flourishing. In 1992 Brutal Truth therefor didn’t cut the mustard and sounded like a tribute to the late eighties. Speaking of tribute, it’s not difficult to deny the blantant plagiarism of Carcass’ “Ruptered In Purulence” intro. Not forgetting to mention the grunting and screaming vocals often sounding an aweful lot like Napalm Death during the Mass Appeal Madness days. Apart from the obvious Napalm Death and S.O.B. influences a lot of Terrorizer and ‘Stress Related’-era Righteous Pigs is put into the compositions and production as well.
Yet if one listens to this album without keeping the releasedate in mind it must be said that it is a pretty good album. Not great though since only half the songs are really excellent and the rest is dull filler material. There are millions of grindcore bands from those days (and now) that can be considered extremely bad. Brutal Truth are NOT bad. They’re just good. And I am talking about their debut album here. The next two albums, whether you like them or not, would prove their ability to add something to the scene and have more influence.
Brutal Truth gets it right on tracks like “Birth of Ignorance”, “Ill-Neglect”, “Denial of Existence”and especially the mighty “Walking Corpse”. Had the band released an EP with just these four songs, it would have easily got an incredible high score from me. This is quality grindcore with some great 78rpm D-beat and thrashing death metal riffs thrown in. The short few-second tracks “Blockhead” and “Collateral Damage” are something Dan Lilker had been doing with S.O.D. and Nuclear Assault as well even before grindcore as a genre even came to life so extra credit for those obviously! The man almost invented it himself.
The rest of the material is either decent, dull or plain bad. So as a whole it’s not a milestone in grindcore but holds enough material for any grindcore or old school death metal fan to like.
BRUTAL TRUTH – EXTREME CONDITIONS DEMAND EXTREME RESPONSES
Brutal Truth came along in the early 90s after Nuclear Assault descended into oblivion, when Danny Lilker wanted a new band to express the anti-social rage that had been building up inside of him. A rage that Anthrax, S.O.D., and Nuclear Assault were too slow for him to vent. So if you think those bands are fast or extreme, you have another thing coming. Buckle your seatbelts, baby.
This debut album is a brilliant combination of Terrorizer’s energy, early Napalm Death’s fantastic socially-aware lyrics, and the sheer brutality of Carcass. It displays the band’s wide array of talents; they do it all here. There’s awesome vocal effects, strategically placed samples, lyrics to throw at your capitalist friends and family, and each member of the band is in top form on their respective instrument.
Scott Lewis hits the drums about as fast as humanly possible, and does a nice, classy job during the slow sections as well. I would compare him to Ken Owen of Carcass. Danny Lilker is great on bass, obviously, and his song-writing skills are superb. Brent McCarty is very solid on guitar, with monster riffs and awesome fills. The guitar sounds very, very heavy, and incredibly crushing. You WILL bang your head.
Kevin Sharp’s vocals are incredible, mostly shifting between three pitches: normal (unbelievably dark and gorilla-like), deep (which sounds like a grizzly bear barking at you indecipherably), and shrieking like a maniac. The latter pitch is the best, with the most emotion, sounding absolutely demented. For an example, listen to his inhuman shriek at 2:05 of Birth of Ignorance! Unbelievable. He captures all your anger and frustration and turns it into sonic bliss.
The production is superb for Grindcore. It’s crisp, it’s clear, you can hear every instrument, even the bass! Everything sounds great. Unlike later albums such as Kill Trend Suicide or Sounds of the Animal Kingdom, this album isn’t scratchy or difficult to decipher. You can immediately distinguish each instrument and what they’re trying to do. It’s beautiful.
Track by track:
P.S.P.I. sets the mood. Eerie, desolate, but hectic. You’re treated to a sample of some guy confessing to committing murder for the sake of being “experimental,” and there’s some creepy drilling going on in the background. Throughout this album you hear all kinds of sound effects which seem to be gathered from a construction (or destruction) site. Drills, hammers, steel… If you’ve seen the music video for Ill-Neglect, and I recommend you do, then you know what I’m talking about. (There’s a lot of hitting bricks with crowbars, and other weird destruction scenes). Ok, this intro song is only 33 seconds long and I’ve already written an entire paragraph.
Birth of Ignorance crashes in hard, and treats you to a nice little slow plodding rhythm, with the intro riff chiming in. Then at :19, Kevin Sharp’s totally animalistic (beautiful) growl acts as a filter, scaring all non-metalheads from listening to this album any further! This is followed by the aforementioned “steel” sound effect… next thing you know there’s some fantastic double-bass drumming… and with pure anticipation you can feel that this is building up to something incredible. The song really picks up at :56, with the main riff set to a fast punky beat. It’s very much a Grindcore riff, and you can easily get sucked into jumping/moshing/dancing like a friggin maniac. When the chorus comes in, with its absolutely fantastic back-and-forth vocal work, a dialogue between the deepest grunts and the highest shrieks, you can’t help but love this band! The song begins to drag after three minutes, but it ends with an explosion, and you know the best is yet to come.
Stench of Profit: what a goddamn brilliant song title, first of all. Anti-capitalism in a violently angry tone. That’s comforting to me, but if you don’t appreciate lyrics about greed and profit at humanity’s expense, then this band probably isn’t for you, and I have to wonder what your problem is. This band hates our capitalistic society, and uses their music to express their alienated frustration, and it’s a gorgeous work of art. Anyway, this song is only 1:22 long, and features the first blastbeats of the album. Quick, dirty, and angry. My oh my, that Scott Lewis is fast as hell on the skins. You won’t be able to decipher any of the ultra-fast vocals, but let me fill you in. “Motivation, greed and pride, you don't care how many die. Mother earth raped once more, mutilated to the core. Never Caring – Never Sharing – Fill Your Pockets – With the Stench of Profit!” Brilliant. Great song.
Ill-Neglect is one of the better tunes on this album. It’s a relentless two-minute attack of yelling, growling, howling, screeching, distorted welping, and let’s not forget the instruments blasting. The opening riff is nice, but the vocals steal the show on this song, and maybe that’s why the band chose this one to make a video out of. There are at least three different tempos here, with slow sections highlighting the intensity of the blastbeat sections. For example, the best part of this song is the thrilling climax. After a slow groove for 45 seconds or so, they blast away at full speed at 2:13, with the high-pitched vocals screaming “No Hope!” This kind of sonic diversity is what makes this album so good. You’re not just pummeled with blastbeats and crazy distortion for the entire album, there’s plenty of variety here to go back and listen hundreds of times. That’s the mark of any good album, and clearly they have succeeded.
Denial of Existence starts off slowly, with two of the best riffs of the album. Sharp’s growls sound perfect against the nihilistic backdrop created by the instruments. Eventually the song picks up, with more of that back-and-forth high-low vocal screaming. The chorus is very catchy and lovable, in an evil, bowel-spewing, blasting sense. The bridge is nice and slow and bouncy, bringing to mind visions of workers desperately shuffling to and fro through the doldrums of their existences. It’s a lovely section, but when the chorus comes back, you’ll feel unbelievable joy.
Regression-Progression has one of the craziest vocal effects you will ever care to hear. I swear it sounds like Kevin Sharp is duplicating a Car Crash. Screeching tires, drivers losing control, you can almost see the drivers’ faces lighting up with sheer horror and loss of control. Perfectly-timed cymbals recreate the crashing and crunching of metal, with bodies flying through windows! As with many songs on this album, the best part is during a blastbeat, and I guess that just about explains why this album WILL make you do some air-drumming, headbanging, or perhaps the fastest dancing of your life.
Collateral Damage is only 4 seconds long, and sounds like Kevin Sharp going “Ayayayayaya!”
Time is one the catchiest songs of the album, and will stick in your head the next day, but is a little boring while listening to it. It begins with a very nice dialogue between growls and blastbeats, but by :25 it slows down into a sludgy, doomy tom-pounder. There’s some more of those power tool sounds, and a real nice riff, but it’s so slow… Ok, the verses are pleasant, with the guitar whining perfectly in time to emphasize the vocals, but give me speed! YES! Our prayers are answered at 3:20, with the wonderful rumble of double-bass, followed by a blastbeat, and I want to orgasm… but no, the slow riff returns, and so do the power tools. It’s not bad, but this song is almost six minutes long, and by the end I have blue balls.
Walking Corpse: NOW WE’RE TALKING! Wisely Brutal Truth follows the slowest song of the album with the fastest. You can shoot your load onto 14 seconds of high-pitched screaming and blastbeat which start this song. Ahhhhh, yes. This is easily one of the best tracks here. Everything is in tip-top shape for 1:38 of brilliance. The music is catchy, super-fast, and real fucking angry. This song also contains the best lyrics of the album: “Are you satisfied with the way that you exist? Every single day just like the one before. Don't you need to express the way you feel? Wake your sleeping brain, there's so much more.” You can actually almost understand them without consulting a lyric sheet, too! I love these vocals… Listen right at 1:22 when the song comes to its climax. Pure, beautiful, extreme anguish. I am in love with this song, and you will be too.
Monetary Gain starts off as another plodder, with a good metal riff. The double-bass helps things move along. Like most songs on this album, the best parts of this one are the fast parts. It’s similar to Regression-Progression, with the screeching chorus/blastbeat section being the highlight for sure. That tortured “MONETARY GAIN!!!” is stupendous. Still, the rest of the song doesn’t offer a whole lot in comparison.
Wilt begins with a perfect sample. “Do you believe in God?” “I believe in myself.” The slow-ish part of this song is ungodly, with Scott Lewis’ drums being especially lovely. Unfortunately, later the fast riff is pretty generic and gets lost in the shuffle, making this one of the more forgettable songs of the album.
H.O.P.E. is another sort-of forgettable song. It’s not bad; it’s just a little formulaic, and the riffs aren’t that special. Still, I love the atmosphere of this album so much that I just can’t disapprove of any of these songs. They’re each beautiful in their precision and ferocity.
Blockhead is 7 seconds long, and even less decipherable than Collateral Damage.
Just when you thought the album was fading into boredom, Anti-Homophobe comes along and grabs you by the ear with a twisted, agonized yelp and a nice grindy guitar riff. The third riff is the best though, and luckily it’s the main one. This song will Definitely make you want to air-drum, air-guitar, or whatever it is you do when nobody’s looking. Definitely. The chorus sounds great, and the lyrics make it even better. This song is all about homophobia (obviously), and respecting people’s sexual preferences. It’s one of the best songs of the album; I highly recommend at least downloading this one if you’re not getting the whole album!
Unjust Compromise finishes off the album in epic fashion, utilizing all of the skills and techniques which make this band great. It slows down after two minutes, and the rest of the song is a kind of deconstruction, from a regular beat and chords into an extended passage of weird distorted notes, and those power tool sound effects again… all set to some very cool drumming, which slows to a crawl, then hops around, while the music continues to devolve. Ultimately it all slowly rumbles away and fades out… only for a secret ending to come in and remind you you’re listening to a band with a sense of humor. Good ending.
I wouldn’t place Extreme Conditions quite as high as the classic Grindcore albums, such as Scum or Symphonies of Sickness, but it’s definitely ONE OF the best Grindcore albums I’ve heard.
It’s got more energy than the follow-up, Need to Control, and is more pure Grind, whereas Need to Control incorporates more punk and melodic elements. Overall though, if you’re looking for an intro to Brutal Truth, I’d probably recommend Need to Control just SLIGHTLY above Extreme Conditions for starters. But if it’s pure Grind you want, come here first.
All in all, I consider this album absolutely mandatory for Grindfreaks, or anyone curious about what is/was Grindcore, and why it’s a genre worth checking out. Believe me, I used to think Grind was pure noisy incompetence and horridness. Man, was I wrong!
Thank you, Brutal Truth, for showing me the light.
It was the 90s and Dan Lilker was all of a sudden so obsessed with grind and more extreme forms of metal that he had to go and leave a perfectly good band (Nuclear Assault) to form this project. Well, OK, he'd been working with this project for a while anyway, but he finally decided to devote his time to it to the extent of leaving his money gig. Brave move, and for a while they got some good press and notoriety (the "Collateral Damage " video). But is this CD any good? Yes and no.
Yes in that it is a right skullcrusher and the first few listens will totally reduce you to pulp--in fact, I don't think that even The Berzerker could match drummer Scott Lewis' insane blasting on this album. That ought to tell you something right away. Yes in that Colin Richardson's trademark stellar production prowess leaves everything crisp and clear with a crushing guitar tone and a bass that sounds like an amped-up bulldozer. The drums sound quite plinky, though, and I am suspecting that this was one of the first totally triggered drum sounds I am aware of. It is a good CD in that when it connects--like with intro "PSPI", "Birth of Ignorance", "Stench of Prophet" (and its eeeevil bass intro), "Denial of Existence", the lethal "Walking Corpse", and "Anti-Homophobe"--it obliterates hard and leaves you gasping for breath.
However, it is not a good CD in that about half the album is just not there in terms of delivery and intensity. Once you get used to Scott's blast beats, they just sort of whiz by in a blur. That and many of the songs on this album just sort of flail and thrash without going anywhere. It doesn't hold up to repeated listens very well, in short. Once the novelty of the ultraspeed blasting and Kevin Sharp's occasional paint-peeling shriek among his deep grunts wears off, well, it's more OK than anything else. I give them credit for writing very intelligent and socially-aware lyrics, however, like taking a directly pro stance on homosexuality with "Anti-Homophobe", a very non-metal thing for some idiots out there. This style of lyric writing was/is a typical grind thing, and they did that well if nothing else.
The capsule version is, download the tracks I mentioned to see what I mean, and if you want to check out the rest of the CD after that, it's your mind and make it up as you wish. If you like more than I do, then great! If not, that's also great. I just found it a little disappointing that after all the hype they (BT) didn't really live up to it as much as I'd hoped.