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This is a band that calls themselves Icons of Brutality. They play death metal and they’re Dutch. Seriously, there should be no surprises here. With their new album "Between Glory And Despair", the band is really staking their claim on the term “brutal”. Now, I know many people will say, “You know what’s really brutal? Pornogrind is brutal!”. Well, I say keep your pornogrind. It’s great, but you can keep it because the way I understand it, brutal means “savagely violent” (dictionary.com), and to be “savagely” violent in a real and not acted sense, decadent lyrics and chaotic music will not bring you far. What you really need is a shit ton of energy. Guess who has a shit ton of energy?
“Just Let Them Burn” started and immediately I knew what kind of band Icons of Brutality is. They are the no bullshit, no frills, no “look at me finger tap this Gibson to death” kind of dudes. It is just great, brutal shit - metal in its purest, most primitive form. “Just Let Them Burn” had a subtle black metal sensibility about it, not so subtle if you take into account the playback of some guy’s speech exhorting the Catholic Church. It is packed full with chugging riffs, lightning fast drums, and a vocalist who doesn’t seem to need any rest. The title track came second and damn was it a good listen. It is solid, dark, and heavy, almost like drinking a whole can of condensed milk if it tasted like blood, and the beats are relentless with a great gel of double bass and slam-style drums. Perfect song for a bad day.
Now, there are almost no solos in this album, but then again, hey, they didn’t make this record to show off. They made this record to spread the energy of death metal, and while it felt like metalcore at some points, I say fuck sub-genres because metal is metal. Understand that Icons of Brutality have a no bullshit attitude going on here. They aren’t going for virtuosity. They are going for an audio experience. Their riffs are on par with the ones of some of the more established death metal bands in the scene currently, but they should not be compared to death metal greats who thrived on technicality such as Death, Atheist, or Cynic. There’s a reason they’re not the Icons of death metal. They’re the ICONS OF BRUTALITY, with an affirmed affinity with '90s Swedish death metal.
The members of ICONS OF BRUTALITY are different from other musicians in the sense that they use their instruments not as serenading tools or a means to show off or a way to experiment and draw emotions out of it. They use their instruments solely to create sounds that will blast your brain, to create an experience that borders on cathartic and violent. The guitar tone is fantastic, in particular the pounding bass, and the production does their brutality justice. The song “Icons Of Brutality”, a representation of themselves, was certainly fitting. It is longer than some of the songs and took its time exploring the different aspects of how the band’s energy can be translated. “Right Leg Solution”, despite its whimsical name, made a lot of sense. There’s this great breakdown that mirrors the one in Slayer's "Raining Blood", which forced me to writhe in my seat in an attempt to control my urge to headbang in my office. Album closer “Battalion 666” came in next with vocalist Jim going bat shit crazy on the microphone with a more Cannibal Corpse-inspired tone. This band does not hold back, man. If they weren’t musicians but professional fighters instead, the sport will damn well be banned for the fatality rate.
It was great fun, really. I highly recommend this album to anyone whose ass isn’t wound up tight in “technical demonstration” and “musical sensibility”, because this music does not dwell on rules or sense. It just is, and it kicks ass.
Originally written for http://www.metal-temple.com.