Brutality - Sea of IgnoranceBrutality came along at the first death knell of a genre that has outlasted just about every musical trend that has come and gone. They released some thrashy death metal demos, one of which (Dimension Demented) I reviewed in the print version of Unchain the Underground back in 1992. They shed any sense of frivolity on their 1993 debut (which AMG Himself, calls, “a motherfucking timeless classic”), Screams of Anguish. Two solid full lengths followed but Brutality were lost in a sea of inferior bands, reaching only moderate acclaim. Rather than lick their wounds and fade into obscurity, Brutality gathered their strength and composed an album that transcends the decades they lay dormant. Sea of Ignorance is relevant in this age of worldwide barbarism and is a tooth-evicting punch to the fucking face of any person that thought extreme music couldn’t mean something again.

2016’s Brutality are a deadly, honed destructive force. A tornado of riffs, vocals, precision bass, insane blasts and double bass. To call them an old school death metal band would be to do them a great disservice as the performances are all exemplary – a band of 20 years ago likely could not play music of this caliber, yet they’re old school in that in the last 20 years, few albums this well-written have been released. This is music that appeals to the limbic system of the brain in its outright, what else? Brutality, yet it does not neglect the cerebrum, as it’s technical but never to the point of losing sight of why we are all here – the RIFF and the SONG. Seldom is any band better than they are during “48 to 52,” a perfect combination of heaviness and melody. Swirling like a black hole, sucking all light and life into the darkness, this is why we listen to death metal. To be shocked by not just the weight of the music but the beauty that only certain ears can pick from among the carnage.

Brutality Dimension Demented review from Unchain the Underground circa 1992

“Tribute,” displays a sense of melody that puts Book Of Souls to shame and name drops not only Maiden but a handful of extreme metal songs, albums and bands as popular as Slayer and underground as the mighty Hellwitch. The band builds tension with speed then breaks down to a groove with a vocal roar that could make the uninitiated immediately shit his or herself. “Barbarically Beheaded,” as the title would imply, is topical not only in lyrical content, but the music captures the current state of the world. It’s unsettling and jarring and sits among “These Walls Shall Be Your Grave” as one of Brutality‘s best compositions. Never a band to rest upon shocking the listener with gore and gross, Brutality stand shoulders above many of their contemporaries and as they did throughout the 90’s, leave us wondering why they didn’t achieve a greater level of success. Perhaps because the words “success” and “death metal” shouldn’t be uttered in the same breath, as Earache’s partnership with Columbia Records and everything about Illud Divinum Insanus have taught us.

As if to add insult to injury of the Deicides and Cannibal Corpses that rested on their laurels in their later years, Brutality cover Bathory‘s sprawling “Shores In Flames,” a black metal anthem, and maintain all of the atmosphere of the original while somehow, bafflingly, doing so in a very death metal fashion. Long-time guitarist Jay Fernandez handles the clean vocals and does an admirable job emulating Quorthon. His soloing is tasteful and fluid, always a compliment to the songs and never showy wanking. Check the solo that closes out the aforementioned “48 to 52” for a prime example. Dual vocals from Scott Riegel and bassist Jeff Acres provide a lot of variety, the former with a deeper guttural roar and the latter with a raspier scream. To my surprise, gone is Jim Corker on the drums, who was with the band since Dimension Demented and through 2013’s Ruins of Humans EP. New blood Ruston Grosse is a percussive pugilist of prodigious proportions. To an old fuck like me, Brutality sound as vicious as they did on their debut.


If more bands recorded music like this decades ago, the genre may not have experienced a downturn, but luckily Brutality are back to breathe new life into a drawn and quartered corpse and remind us of why this music is so great. It appeals to the primal nature and challenges the listener while, at the same time, remaining barbaric enough that you could beat someone to death while listening to it. Almost 20 years after In Mourning was unleashed and essentially ignored, with Sea Of Ignorance, Brutality have taken the bar for death metal and not just set it higher, but catapulted it into the stratosphere. Death metal, ironically, is alive and not just well, but foaming at the teeth to take hold of your jugular and drink every last drop of your blood. I, for one, am happy to sacrifice my sanguine elixir to feed the beast.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Ceremonial Records |
Released Worldwide: January 22nd, 2016

  • André Snyde Lopes

    A freaking Hellwitch namedrop in 2016 is something I never thought I’d see. Thanks for the excellent review Al.

  • RuySan

    That album cover sure doesn’t look like a 4.5. Anyway, when will you start reviewing porn at AMG?

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      I was literally just typing that.

      That is some ugly angsty teenager cover art

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Ah, memories of Autumnal’s cover art for The End of the Third Day.

    • The cover art reminded me of Toxik’s Think This. Incidentally, another band (though not death metal) that are making a comeback. If their demo of last year is any indication, their new album will, likewise, be amazing.

      • defjam

        Very nice review, this band is criminally underrated. Looking forward to the Toxik album as well.

      • Lasse Momme

        jesus christ, why wasn’t I aware of this…. I’ll have to fire my imaginary secretary right after she’s done picking up my space coffee from the rings of saturn.

      • Ah, the underground darlings of the MetalStorm crowd.

  • Solaire

    Was looking forward to this album as soon as they announced it, Screams Of Anguish is one of my favourite DM albums of all time, and they most certainly did not disappoint with this. Great review.

  • That cover is like Riot’s Privilege of Power but 10 times worse.

    • The mark of all trvely great death metal.

  • Can’t wait to get to this. I just did a FL article in honor of this record. I just love love Brutality…wait that didn’t come out right. Oh well.

    Edit: Ordered

    • Andy777

      Me too, why these guys don’t have a bandcamp page is beyond me though. ;)

      • Kronos

        Because they’re olde as shit, as is Al Kikuras. He doesn’t even type out his reviews; he dictates them to a manservant and are then flown to AMG HQ by a homing pigeon.

        • Andy777

          I always pictured him typing them out on an old typewriter with a few broken keys a la Misery.

          • I actually write long hand with a quill, then have it sent to Druhm via telegraph. Poor bastard has to type the thing out one letter at at time.

          • I use a tablet now. A STONE tablet!

          • Hulksteraus

            Do you hammer it into the tablet in morse?

  • Wilhelm

    The cover art could be better, but it’s the music that matters; Modern DM that defies the squashed mastering that makes most DM albums today sound like shit – but even better the compositions are both Brutal and highly melodic (and memorable) – I had no idea these guys were even back together, but hell, I am glad. The only awkward moment is the Bathory cover that somehow works, but still doesn’t fit in.

    • Andy777

      I totally agree. This sounds killer, I can’t wait to check it out in full.

    • The original cover art (or at least what I think was intended to be) was a bit less heavy-handed. I liked the original better, but like you said, the music is what really matters. You could wrap this one in a brown paper bag and it would still kill.

  • dinob0t

    The mix here just sounds wonderful.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    This review was brilliant, that it was written by the one guy trve enough to have reviewed a Brutality demo in print made it even better, I checked out Hellwitch because they were mentioned here and they’re great, and that this got a 4.5 seems like a great way to come full circle. This whole damn thing wins, and on top of that we’ve got more great death metal to listen to.

  • Luke_22

    Impressive scene cred there and a fitting review as well. This is a great album and very tidy comeback.

  • anonbr666

    OMG this song “Sea of ignorance” is super sick! Can’t wait for the rest of the album on spotify.

  • JJ

    This review was almost worth tolerating Abbath’s pores.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    This is heaven for people like me who love death metal but were introduced to metal in the form of super-produced prog and metalcore. Great production, classic style. Brilliant review!

  • The Stormin Mormon

    “…a purcussive pugilist of prodigious proportions” is a prime piece of alliterative perfection. Awesome review!

  • RilesBell

    I love Screams of Anguish so I’ll most definitely check this out. This review got me in the mood for some death metal!

  • Innit Bartender

    Wait, is that the previous Pope on the cover???

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Yeah, Benedict was one evil looking dude. His encyclicals weren’t nearly as good as JPII’s either.

      • Innit Bartender

        Take it from an Italian, he didn’t just LOOK the part…
        Anyway, that cover is a weird mash-up of Rush’s “Roll the Bones” and Watchmen’s Ozymandias…
        (Yes, my resolution for this year is to throw in as many Rush references as I can… )

        • brutal_sushi

          Well I for one appreciate that reference, since Roll the Bones was the first album I bought.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          As a Canadian, I appreciate the Rush references. Nobody ever gets to review anything like them though because AMG Himself is always bogarting everything that sounds even a little bit like them.

          • Innit Bartender

            I have my hands full of 2112s and Tom Sawyers like everyone else, I’m more of an advocate for latest era Rush. If you just take Vapor Trails, Snakes & Arrows and Clockwork Angels and imagine ANY band, new or otherwise, coming up with those 3 albums in a row, they’d be up there in Mount Stevenwilsolympus with Pitchfork groupies BBQing wild boars for them.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            VT is/was underrated, S&A was absurdly catchy, and CA was a beast. Rush is much better than Steven Wilson and his projects anyway, but I guess Mt. Rushmore is already taken…so Stevenwilsolympus is must be.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I have to agree, Benedict has that evil look… like he’s Satan´s envoy to infiltrate the Catholic Church, or something. The previous and current Popes looked/looks just like nice old great-uncles.

  • Lasse Momme

    HOLY SHITNUGGETS! Who the fuck saw that coming….

  • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

    After reading the review, THE HYPE IS REAL IN THIS ONE. And right now, after the embedded track has finished the silence is kind of uncomfortable…

  • Mr T

    Bonus points for bathory cover.

  • Siege Bantayan

    Digging the embedded track; the intro brought chills down my spine for some reason. Gonna check the rest out!

  • SegaGenitals

    The kid has unlucky 13 on his back, unlucky to be born in our modern age where homo lupus homini est. He drops his bear which is no consolation to cold, hard, unlubricated reality.

  • Kalsten

    It sounds really good. Really nice review. But, anyone knows where to buy the album digitally? It is not in Spotify, or Bandcamp…

    • Philip Pledger

      I’d also be interested in knowing this. Even checked iTunes out of desperation, but no dice. The band website just has the physical disk, and that’s at $13USD which is a bit much honestly.

      • As it stands (directly from the band): “We have no plans for a digital release. Best way to get it is on our site. We want fans to have the whole package just like if it was 1993.” They did release previous stuff on iTunes so time will tell.

        • Kalsten

          Too bad for them. They want me to live like in 1993, but we are not in 1993. I’ve just found the digital version of the album.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Please share. Was it in iTunes?

          • Kalsten

            Nope. It was in another…place.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Ah, I think I understand. ; )

        • Philip Pledger

          “Best way to get it is on our site.” The mail center at my school loses 25% of incoming mail, refuses to process another 25%, sends another 25% of it to another student chosen at random, and handles 100% of it extremely roughly. This makes the odds of receiving an ordered physical CD roughly 25%, and the sets odds of receiving said CD in working condition at exactly 0%. It looks like I’m stuck passing on a quality piece of death metal until freaking June. Even then, I’d be hesitant to condone that business model by voting with my wallet. Is this band allergic to money or something?

          • It’s licensed in Europe and Asia so it may be easier to get a copy. They are discussing iTunes and Bandcamp and said they “see either i tunes or bandcamp as options fairly soon”

      • Kalsten

        For me is not that much the price, but that simply, I don’t like having physical CDs, as I move a lot.

  • The attached lyric vid song is infectious, I’ll be checking this out for sure…quality death metal that doesn’t kill my ears

  • Here is the scoop on a digital release: “We have no plans for a digital release. Best way to get it is on our site. We want fans to have the whole package just like if it was 1993.”

    • Yeaaah. So shipping to Japan for a $15 CD was about $30 or something insane like that. Nope.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Same here for shipping to Canada: 22 USD incl. Shipping = 30 CAD.

        • Hulksteraus

          Ha!! – $16USD – $34 to $40AUD including shipping are my memories…

    • UishidoX

      what a shame. if you order on their labels page incl. delivery costs to where I live it adds up to 30 bucks. In my country it’s not available on bol/amazon etc. I wish there would be a bandcamp release…. :(.. plus the whole package experience in my case means to get it, rip it and never touch the cd ever again… totally worth it

    • AnnieK13

      No digital …that is a shame as this would have been a buy.

  • UishidoX

    does somebody know if I can buy this as download somewhere? I don’t like to buy CDs anymore…

  • Latest from the band: “Repulsive echo in greece and stillborn sounds both have it. I think we might be putting it up on bandcamp soon too.”

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I just read the review again more than a year later and i have to say that this is a quote for the ages:

    “…this is why we listen to death metal. To be shocked by not just the weight of the music but the beauty that only certain ears can pick from among the carnage.”