There are so many variants of hardcore right now. It’s bull in a china shop time for anyone obsessed with the aggression and emotion of good, honest hardcore. Unfortunately, hardcore fans can kinda suck. Everybody knows the ones. Chet and his bros, ready to get their hurt on, drink some beers (edge held for 4 days) and just get up in everyone’s shit. Brutality Will Prevail probably have a few fans like this clamoring for more two steps and call out choruses and they’re gonna be disappointed. In Dark Places sees the band getting back to the down and dirty, flirting with styles that don’t belong, according to Chet and his bros.
Who is to say what does or doesn’t belong in any art form. People shit on canvas and sell it. That’s just their version of it. In Dark Places is a version of the hardcore (minus the shit) known by the band but with accoutrement. Adaptations of their sound but embellished with inspiration from past. Let’s talk Black Sabbath, Alice In Chains and The Cure (kinda). Again, who’s to say, this is as subjective as it gets. But there is 100% influences from these three bands in the material played by Brutality Will Prevail on this, their Holy Roar debut. Definitely subjective.
Billed as a return to their heavier, darker roots, it’s quickly noticeable this is true. The riffs are chunkier and slathered in the kind of smokey Sabbath sauce more to be found at a stoner/sludge barbecue than a vegan friendly hardcore gathering. Much like the earlier days of heavy metal, these tracks are all pretty damn slow too. They crash and stomp in segments with nothing other than a guitar chugging slowly between kicks and cymbals; the effect is perfect on opener “Serpent”, a real pit filler. It’s a welcome dirge – it slithers and smokes like a silent movie villain.
In Dark Places pulls from the muck momentarily when the kids from Cardiff bring it down a gear, kicking into some dirty, grungy metal riff slinging. The kind that oozes out of a “Sludge Factory” perhaps. The clean vocals dispersed sparingly throughout the record see Brutality Will Prevail pulling into a fairly unfamiliar territory. To compare, Harm’s Way and their brief experiments with the trick on Rust. These layers of vocally distressed platitudes swamp around the dirty Alice riffs and blur between the funeral march of the Sabbath. The very Sabbath that is in the blood of Alice In Chains. Inspiration breeds inspiration and this is sound that is the best tribute. Because it actually works, even improving in certain areas. Not all of them though.
Save from “Forever Distressed” and closer “Elegy” (which feels like a sludge cover of Thrice in parts), the straight forward hardcore of the record is hit or miss. It’s heavy and it stomps like something big crushing something small, without ever really changing momentum. The structure of some of the build up on In Dark Places demands a quick shift in feel, to really kick off. It’s okay to still be a hardcore band, even with all the new toys. The fans need push pits for the love of man!
That’s a shitty complaint because Brutality Will Prevail have experimented with their sound to the point where the penultimate track could have been on Disintegration. It’s a gamble that certain, eh, household names haven’t benefited from this year already. In Dark Places is a work of genius in that it has a band reworking their sound and playing with just as much heart as ever, at the same time pissing off a small portion of jerks who can’t deal with actual atmosphere in music. Kudos for that. Also, great attempt. The next effort will be seamless.