Brutus - Burst (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Burst (2017)

Hassle Records

Riding the thin line of punk/metal/rock, Brutus is an all frills guitar-bass-drums band from Belgium. What started as a Refused tribute act (makes sense) has evolved into a much more fleshed-out band with no intention of fitting into a neat box. On their debut Burst, three instruments sound like so much more.

Led by singer/drummer Stefanie Mannaerts, Brutus’ intentions constantly switch. But no matter the objective, the three members go for broke. The drums in “Not Caring,” the guitar on “Crack/Waste,” and every second of Mannaerts' singing. Her voice is expansive, like if The Sounds’ Maja Ivarsson fronted a metal band. It fights the tension of the music both competing with it (“All Along”) and taming it (“Child”). Her range allows for the sweet “Justice de Julia II,” a gentler curveball on an album anything but.

Burst flows at breakneck speed. While always impressive when a drummer fronts a band, Mannaerts makes the most of both talents. When she sings, she still hits fast. But when relieved of vocal duties, Mannaerts is free to let loose. Either way she constantly shines brightest and, rivaling Stijn Vanhoegaerden’s guitar, that’s an impressive feat. Bassist Peter Mulders balances Mannaerts but allows Vanhoegaerden to fill space with wild effects and melodies, reminiscent of White Lung’s Kenneth William. Guys like these prove guitar driven rock and roll can still be experimental. Brutus’ biggest attempt at a single is “Drive,” which here just means its most balanced effort.

Brutus transcends characterization. They are a power team, each with their own driving force. The chugging bass lends itself to the atmospheric guitars making way for the rapid-fire drums. Burst is a beautifully chaotic debut.