The Day Everything Became Nothing
The album cover of Brutal is a pretty good indication of the album The Day Everything Became Nothing recorded. It is open. It is clear. It is sharp. And in the middle of it all is a little bit of ugly.
The music that this badly-named Australian band plays is clear, chugging goregrind (sans visual gore on this one) that has a deceptive simplicity and a steady--almost lulling--straight-ahead approach.
Brutal is cleanly-recorded, crisp, downtuned music that is given it's place in the world of "extreme" music by the use of pitch-shifted vocals and occasional bits of metal drum activity. Had these vocals been swapped out for clean vocals, you'd have something not all that far from the early 90s album by Helmet called Meantime. Both albums are focused on tightly-controlled chug-centric riffs and the changing of rhythms. Neither contain very much guitar melody. Although I'm not a fan of Helmet (that went to the used CD store back in the 90s, so it might be more compelling than I remember), The Day Everything Became Nothing's Brutal has a far better vibe, because of the abstract vocals and uglier tuning. Also, there are some amazingly fluid explorations of odd meters (eg. rockin' the 9/8) that rival Rush's ability to move out of 4/4 and 6/8 without calling attention to technicality (Subdivisions, for instance).
I have two main criticisms of Brutal, which make this album a moderate recommendation to most metalheads and higher one to goregrind enthusiasts.
My first complaint is that the first half of the album is better than the second half. This is partially owing to the undeniable similarity between songs ... and after five or six or seven very similar journeys, I'd like it to go some place a little bit less similar. Additionally, most of the best moments (ie. catchy syncopation and headbanging meter changes) are in the first five tracks, excepting track 7. (The song titles on this album are numbers--- this band isn't great with naming things, are they?).
My other gripe is the alternate voice that comes in on occasion----high screams that flirt with the hardcore side of grindcore I don't really like. They're not terrible, these screams, but they do disrupt the cruising, chugging, dark and most off all CONTROLLED atmosphere of this thing. Although this music is considered "extreme," it's not at all extreme--- it has a controlled aesthetic that doesn't line up well with the rebellious attitude of the high grindcore/screamo voice.
Clearly, I think The Day Everything Became Nothing could have done a little more here---even inside their tightly-defined parameters---but the album Brutal is a fun platter of rolling, fluid and disciplined goregrind. This is my first experience with their music, and it won't be my last.