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“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”
Despite Western society’s apparent attempt at denying all the lesser facets of human functioning, both physiologically and psychologically, the deep primacy inherited within the very DNA that spawns these physical vessels is intrinsically and undeniably a tether to the left hand path whose hand churns the dirt and roots of this incomparable sphere we call home. Such an integral part of our cosmic design transcends all thought, all mitigations, comparisons and constructs that sprout from the conscious mind; for the conscious mind cannot grasp the unconscious world any more than a pitch black room can grasp light through a pinhead-sized aperture. Brutal Truth was apparently well aware of this animal inside us all, because in 1997 they decided to shed all traces of civilized conjunctions and devolve into the basic pre-sapien blueprints that heralded the dawn of humanity itself.
Anyone familiar with the band's previous works will no doubt be able to recognize Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom as a Brutal Truth album almost instantly thanks Kevin Sharp’s unforgettable southern-tinged maniacal outbursts and the Lilker / Gurn duo's angular string explorations. This however, this is not the Brutal Truth of old. Whereas most bands choose to evolve over the span of their career (or at least pretend to), here we witness a band devolving and diverging away from all traces of humanity’s very role in music, and crafting a work of modern genius in the process.
Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom signifies an inner war that rages within us all, the war of beast vs. man, and of nature vs. order. Seething with anger, hostility and a fair dose of inadvertent humor, SOTAK takes a more subdued approach to these classic expressions of grindcore thanks in large part of a divisive production job. While the LP's between Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses and Kill Trend Suicide featured the upfront and personal productions qualities characteristic of most grindcore, this album is muzzled like a farmed pitbull, while nonetheless remaining at least well-balanced through all areas. Many have irked this as a fault to the album’s potential but in grand scope it fits what the band is trying to express perfectly. The subdued and denied inner-ape heartily fighting to the surface of man’s weakened ego.
Lyrically the whole thing is on point through and through, rife with intelligent qualms against the civilized world without ever taking itself too seriously, "You think you have the answers, With not a shit to say, Rip apart my every thought, Before it's ever said, Fuck off - fucking little trendy, Brats bored of spending, Mommy's cash" Well thought first person social commentary contributes an even deeper and more reflective swath of perspective to come forth[i]"Next in line, Step to me and bass the buck, It's only human actions, Force me to lash out and crush." For good measure, splashes of Hunter S. Thompson-esque humor, and toungue in cheek defiance keep the whole thing rather jovial about its own violence, "Kicking back and turning on, Punching out reality, While sifting through, The hand that feeds". It's clear Kevin Sharpis a well versed explorer of the human condition.
It must be noted here that Sound Of The Animal Kingdom is not an easy listen. Clocking in at well over an hour, it can be considered that the first 50 minutes is the meat and potatoes of the album, while the last 22 minutes is the indigestion. While the majority is blitzkrieg grind with tastefully paced noise samples, Prey, the final track, is basically a 2.5 second loop from the earlier track Average People, played over and over probably hundreds of times. While many would call this drivel, it poses double roles, both remarkably concise; as a test for the doubter’s patience, and as a symbolic summary of the antithesis of accessibility for a human mind, with repetition itself serving as the only vanguard to cohesiveness.
However one should not be mislead by this caustic form of primitive embrace. Musically this is no quartet of gorillas throwing instruments at rubber truck tires hanging from trees, rather it presents itself as a fully conscious and calculated observation that can only be understood when one sheds all traces of every artificial construct and idea that clutters the civilized man’s mind. The guitar buzzes around recognizably groovy riffs like a nest of angry hornets and reduces the traces of musical familiarity with angular deconstructions and inimitable skewing of basic songwriting. Oft jumping from hardcore and punk influenced riffs like the first half of Vision, Brent "Gurn" McCarty is a master at letting loose on the guitar like the inner explosion of anger a man experiences when building IKEA furniture. These releases, coupled with his large mixbag of diverse riffs make songs like Dead Smart turn on a dime and harken some of this band's most memorably catchy moments. Danny Lilker's bass shines through in a tightly executed manner through the whole endevour, adding an essential crunch to the bottom end while pillaging with a commanding fair that often dances in the foreground. The drumming on this album fits the overall feel of the piece wonderfully as well, utilizing plenty of grind-rolls, blasts and while maintaining a healthy dose of groovin’ southern rock influenced pacings, particularly prominent on the slow-burning Jemenez Cricket, which also features some of the most vivid and lucid riffing found in the genre. Although the cymbal work is quite muffled in the production job, it still sits well in the mix just below the buzz-saw guitar tone.
Songwriting’s very definition gets blurred within the lines of grindcore, renowned for its short and tenacious symphonies of chaos, but Brutal Truth are no slouches in the diversity department. Despite being a grind album through and through, there are plenty of painfully slow, doomy passages that do wonders at accentuating the animalistic fury that dominates the album. The variation of riffing, drumming and vocal work keep the whole thing rolling all the way to end while captivating the listener’s interest with morbid fascination. As he sees the deepest realms of his own self being reflected in the noise, he is left wondering if he can accept what he has seen and heard; left wondering if he can accept himself.
With Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom, Brutal Truth have intelligently crafted a work that serves as an antithesis to all civilized life, a denial of all humanity whilst embracing natural chaos and a return to the roots of our savage origins; rough around the edges, callous and brutish, for better or worse. As if completely void of self-relfection, this is a rampaging destruction of all mankind's progress and triumphs through the milennia. So if you enjoy primal yet intelligent grindcore, or any extreme music for that matter, this album stands as a flagstaff middle finger to all that is holy and good, a beacon of hope for the savage beast boiling within us all.
Ah, how terribly misunderstood this album remains even nearly 15 years after its release. A muddy recording, confusing songwriting, too chaotic, not brutal enough – that’s what people complain about. Well, yes, the production is not as clear and brutal as it used to be on earlier albums, especially “Need to Control”. The point is, it’s less metal and more noiserock and hardcorepunk, which makes it less defined and sharp, but also more warm and rocking. “Rocking” – that’s an important term for this album cause while Brutal Truth of course are still grinding like hell, the one thing they really do on “Sounds of the Animal Kingdom” is to rock. Now don’t get me wrong, this is far from grind’n’roll like Blood Duster who really play rock riffs in between their grind riffs. What I mean here is just the action of rocking. You can really feel the intense fun the band members have with playing this music, how there’s a big grin on their faces due to the sheer energy of their over-the-top-chaos of very professionally played grindcore. And yes, it is chaotic. While comparisons to Naked City and Painkiller seem a bit exaggerated, this for sure is way beyond simple power chord shredding. But, and this should be a “but” all in capital letters, this band know what they are doing, and they know how to arrange the chaos.
Of course, most of the songs are not easy to follow, you will need some time before being familiar with the whole album. But after a while, more and more songs crystallize out of this storm, you realize the catchiness of many parts of the material and you begin to be taken by this energetic storm and rock out to it, shouting certain chorus lines, digging the breaks, etc. It is a diversity and quality of songwriting rarely seen (heard) in grindcore. I won’t point out any single songs, but there is an interesting development throughout this album, and while I usually hate this modern trend of pressing 50 minutes on double vinyl (mind it, this album was released long before this trend started), it helps to get into this album. The first side is basically just fast and rocking. The second gives you some relief with its midtempo to slow stuff, some groove and experimental, which delivers a new level to the sound (of this album, not of the band as they have used this element ever since). On side three it goes the fast and chaotic way again, before side four gives you a good mix of everything, including some cool cover songs (by Sun-Ra and Nausea).
It’s obvious that many people don’t like “Sounds of the Animal Kingdom”. This is basically due to the production and overall feel to it, which is something that many metalheads don’t get, while “Need to Control” with its Colin-Richardson-production still appealed to them. They prefer brutal precision and control over rocking craziness and chaos. But that’s just what “Sounds of the Animal Kingdom” is all about, it’s for drug-crazed grindfreaks only, as the band put it so adequately. If you are open to this way of playing and sound, this album might be Brutal Truth’s most exciting and rewarding. It’s no wonder the band themselves still consider this their best effort. And of course the cool lyrical concept and the amazing artwork add to this overall greatness and originality. I totally love “Need to Control”, but I love “Sounds of the Animal Kingdom” just the same, maybe even a little more. It’s an album that totally belongs to the pantheon of grindcore!
What a bummer. I've followed Brutal Truth for awhile, but anymore I could care less about them. This album s basically the time and moment when I started thinking this way. In general, I've thought their music to be groundbreaking in many ways, but also occasionally highly overrated. Need to Control, without a doubt their best, has a lot of interesting stuff going on, but mixed with repetitive drum lines and messes of riffs that all sound the same. They followed that with Kill Trend Suicide, which is pretty tight overall, though very short. Sounds From the Animal Kingdom goes to show why some bands are better off when they quit young and let it die in glory.
I'll start with presentation. I'm pretty happy with the design of the cover, though it has that 'look what I can do with Photoshop' look to it. I think it fits the theme well, however, and the general artwork is traditional Brutal Truth, but with a more modern flair. No real complaints here, I think they did a good job at least giving this album it's own sort of feel amongst all the other metal drivel out there.
The sound, however, is where this starts to get bad. Sounds From the Animal Kingdom follows Need to Control in that there are often interesting riffs, but you either have to wait a long time to hear them, or you have to listen to mediocre tracks and/or thoughtlessly added noise experimentation before you get to them. Any interesting riffs are generally thrown to hell with a 'fuck it might as well blast beat over this' mentality. Occasionally there are some interesting patterns, but in general you have occasionally cool riffs covered over by far from interesting blast beats. It's like he doesn't know what to do with them and just said screw it, I'll just double kick this and throw in some ride.
In addition, the drum tracks are horribly recorded, really muddy at times. The guitar work sounds like a mess, and the vocals are occasionally slightly muffled. I'm not sure what they did for this album, but the recording quality is definitely not up to the standards from previous releases. It almost sounds like it's coming through an old-time radio. Really only Dementia, Jemenez Cricket and the end of Machine Parts are interesting. That leaves a whopping seventeen tracks that aren't very good, the majority of which have interesting riffs shot to hell by uninventive singing and structure. Come on guys.
Lyrically, I've always kind of liked what he writes, and you can sometimes even tell what he's saying, but this is also where they start to reuse political ideas that are getting tiresome. There's only so much I can listen to lyrics about pigs, coppers, and cash hogs before I start to yawn. A little more variety would have been good, similar to what they did on Kill Trend Suicide for the most part. At this point they need to be singing something new, but there are occasional tidbits here I enjoyed. Still, I've always been slightly annoyed by any band who tries to have a big political message when they're milking the same system they sing about hating. As for how he sings, I've always thought he as a pretty cool vocalist, though with the occasional effects. They're well hidden and sometimes he really mixes his singing with the riffs nicely. Not as well as earlier work, but it's probably the strongest point musically of this album.
This is a really disappointing album overall and only a precursor of things to come. Anyone who's heard the more recent work knows, these guys NEED TO STOP. Really a shame, they went from more traditional death metal to a unique sound and seem like they don't really know where to take it anymore. Perhaps Relapse poisoned them in some way, I don't know, it seems anything that hits that label starts to suck eventually, these guys included. Bottom line, if you're really interested, pick up the songs I mentioned through download and leave it at that, you won't have such a bad taste in the end.
This release is unlike any other grindcore album that I've heard. Since this is the first album I've listened to from this band, I have to say they have a very creative imagination with the brutal edge they deliver on what appears to be their last full-length album. SOTAK has some very strong areas and of course like any other release from any band it has to have at least 1 or 2 weak points.
A good aspect of this album is the fact that, although it may sound repetitive at most points (which is usually the case with most grindcore acts), it never fails to aspire creativity and originality in a genre that by most people's standards don't expect much from. Another great thing about this release are the shredding riffs that are found scattered throughout the whole thing not to mention all the weird sampling they evoke in 3 of the tracks. ("blue world",
"4:20" and "It's after the end of the world"
On the other hand the music lacks some structure and as a grind fan I'm very well aware of the fact that grind is exactly what its name implies but no band can get away with a great release without adding some chorus within each song an example is Napalm Death's first two albums which are executed very well in the riffing department. That's probably the only flaw in this album other than that everything else is heavy as fuck and I think there's a couple of joke songs found here particularly the last track "Prey" which clocks in at almost 22 minutes ( a rare thing considering the grindcore signature no-more-than- 2 minute-songs) with the word prey said about a million times as well as the volume slowly increasing in the recording-- this track is sure to annoy the hell out of anyone who has primitive knowledge on metal or is simply disgusted by grindcore. The album is very subtle and it's probably only worth the listen just for the dynamic guitar and drum work other than that you can either like it or hate it.
Personally I think it kicks ass so if you're a fan of grind and are seeking a new twist to this genre consider picking up this album sometime