Brutal Truth

  • Brutal Truth
  • Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses (Earache/Relativity) 1992 
  • Perpetual Conversion EP (Earache/Relativity) 1992 
  • Need to Control (Earache) 1994 
  • Malformed Earthborn
  • Defiance of the Ugly by the Merely Repulsive (Relapse) 1995 

This hyper-aggressive New York foursome ambitiously pushes the death metal genre to new limits by amplifying the speed and terror while incorporating outside influences like hardcore techno and power tools. Such growth in grindcore comes courtesy singer/journalist Kevin Sharp and bassist Dan Lilker, notable for co-founding and then quitting Anthrax, Nuclear Assault and the infamous Stormtroopers of Death.

Extreme Conditions presents a hip alternative to the adolescent satanic gore-mongering of rivals like Deicide and Obituary. “Walking Corpse” and “Birth of Ignorance” take the tough stance of metal to the advanced political mindset of British earachers. Unlike the special grooviness of Carcass, however, this debut has little to offer non-believers except a vision of sheer hardcore metal intensity and a debt to Napalm Death.

The five-track Perpetual Conversion companion piece expands on tangential interests, featuring an electronic remix of the title track, an interesting ten-minute noise collage by Lilker (“Bed Sheet”), the previous album’s convincing Death tribute (“Walking Corpses”) and a Black Sabbath cover (“Lord of This World”). As is typical for heavy bands, the Sabbath worship is two-dimensional and wooden — inhuman vocals and noise power is not sufficient to recreate the emotion of a classic.

Need to Control pushes metal until it ruptures into experimental noise. Unpredictable songs like “Black Door Mine” are masked in a frantic blur of saturated sound. New drummer Rich Hoak’s frenetic circular playing is one of several innovations; “Godplayer” opens with the low rattle of a didgeridoo, the ultimate bass rumble. The new chaos and complexity are a paralyzing combination, forming the most paranormal metal since Voivod. The group has subsequently collaborated with John Zorn, the Boredoms and God Is My Co-Pilot.

Joined by Shane Embury of Napalm Death, Lilker and former Brutal Truth drummer Scott Lewis are Malformed Earthborn, a studio project that takes the band’s dense, jagged ethos to the sample bank, injecting waves of exotic snippets into dance-y rhythms with psychedelic results. Despite their metalhead front, the musicians prove themselves articulate, creative overachievers — if a little too enamored of Skinny Puppy.

[Ian Christe]