Becerus – Homo Homini Brutus Review

Cavemen have become popular again, and this time they’re not trying to sell you insurance. No, a wave of bands are doing something I appreciate and embracing the simpler elements of death metal. Bands like Frozen Soul, Sanguisugabogg, Celestial Sanctuary, and Gutless are associated with our cave-dwelling ancestors and they have one important thing in common: big, dumb riffs. What type of big dumb riffs? Mortician ones. What Suffocation is to slam, Mortician is to this caveman niche. Much like how it takes a talented musician to make us laugh with brilliantly awful renditions of songs, the big dumb riffs of Mortician take smarts and skills to do right, and Mortician is a band with those smarts and skills. The Italian gruesome twosome deemed Becerus have entered the caveman arena with clubs swinging on their debut Homo Homini Brutus­, and we’re going to see if they’ve discovered fire or not.

That line doesn’t exactly work too well since the drums are programmed – a “rubbing two sticks together” joke doesn’t really fit here thanks to that. Nevertheless, those who are looking for their contemporary caveman fix may initially be a bit perplexed by what Becerus is doing. While the drum machine sounds happily and charmingly artificial like Mortician’s does, the main influences on Becerus seem to be old Cannibal Corpse, Leprosy, and Broken Hope’s Swamped in Gore, seasoned to taste with old Obituary. This is a good thing, because while I do enjoy big, ignorant riffs, many bands seem to forget that Mortician drank deeply from the grindcore well in constructing their sound; House by the Cemetery wouldn’t be as brilliant as it is without both elements working in tandem and accentuating one another, thrilling the listener with breakneck transitions.

I’ll be upfront here: there’s really nothing “original” about what Becerus is doing. In fact, if you’re paying attention, you can hear how much Butchered at Birth influenced individual riffs – “Incapacity” apes “Gutted,” while the memorable quick chugging part in “Circular Deficiency” was quite obviously inspired by the same type of part in “Innards Decay.” But you know what? I don’t care. Becerus is fun, and its lack of variety would be a problem if Homo Homini Brutus were forty-five minutes long, but Becerus is done with their vicious clubbing in about twenty-five. This is a sound that plenty of people love, myself very much included. The slow Obituary bludgeon in “Hymn to Ungainly Corpulence” even has an Allen West type lead to drive the point home, and I enjoyed every second of it. “Bifolcus” nicely captures the riffing style of old death metal, and for those of us who relish that it’s like slipping on and old and comfortable pair of shoes.

The big “flaw” here is that Becerus comes across as a sort of tribute act, but this is mitigated by them being a good one. The vocals apparently have no lyrics and are just grunting and growling, and this only gets slightly annoying at the end of “Circular Deficiency” where it sounds like those “ooga-chaka-ooga-ooga” guys at the start of “Hooked on a Feeling” decided to vocalize the famous Friday the 13th noise. Otherwise, Becerus gives the listener twenty-five minutes of primal death metal comfort food, excluding a gratuitous ambient intro and outro. The record flows well, has some solid little hooks (the quick scale run in “Grotesque Parsifal Sucurandus” is a prime example), and the brief songs are structured to get maximum impact from the universally good riffs.

Homo Homini Brutus’s production is fairly modern, sounding like a polished and shiny Swamped in Gore. It frames the songs well, doesn’t detract from the primal heaviness, and complements the drum machine instead of trying to disguise it. Homo Homini Brutus is quintessentially good, as it does what it sets out to do competently and is written and performed well. I’m in tacit agreement with the vocalist that words don’t suit Becerus all that well, so if you’re looking to go clubbing in the sense of smashing the skulls of your enemies in that other cave over there, get on board. Bang your head, bash some heads, and enjoy the riffs – the life of a caveman is a simple one, but it definitely has its perks.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Everlasting Spew Records
Releases Worldwide: April 30th, 2021

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