October 23, 2020 Brutus – Live in Ghent (Live Album Review)
There is something magical about the live performance. Something that resonates deep in your soul, there are particular artists that are made for such an experience, and Belgium’s Brutus is one of them.
A three-piece act that came together initially as a Refused tribute band, Brutus has quickly made a name for themselves with their own music. First releasing a split EP with The Guru Guru in 2015, their full-length album Burst followed in 2017, before the massive breakthrough of Nest in 2019.
Possessing a sound that could be described as a mix of Progressive Metal, Punk Rock, and Shoegaze, together, Stefanie Mannaerts (vocals/drums), Peter Mulders (bass), along with Stijn Vanhoegaerden (guitar), create a beautiful wall of noise. As mentioned, something that can only fully be appreciated when performed live, Brutus is now offering up their first-ever live album on Friday, October 23, 2020, Live In Ghent via Sargent House.
An idea that came about during the peak of COVID-19 lockdowns, Brutus quickly realized they would not be able to tour for some time. A sad, unfortunate reality, to satisfy their own desires, as well as fans yearning for live music, they made use of their downtime listening to recordings from their May 2019 performance at Handelsbeurs Concert Hall. Reflecting on the inspiring evening, playing to a sold out crowd of 750 fans in their hometown of Ghent, it only made sense to package it together as a live album.
Featuring thirteen songs in total, the set list is a balance of their first two studio albums; featuring seven songs from Nest and six from Burst. Running smoothly together in an order that just seems right, in truth, Brutus’ live recording mirrors the studio sessions flawlessly. Something that is not at all a surprise, this is a band that relies heavily on ambience to get their message across. Thanks heavily in part to their potent instrumentation, which is dreamy and heavy, Brutus’ exceptionalism lies in the unmistakably enchanting voice of Stefanie Mannaerts. To sum it up briefly, Mannaerts’ approach comes across as genuine and undeniably unique. At times she can be imagined fronting an Extreme Metal band while others leading a Punk band, or sometimes even singing for an Alternative Rock band like The Cranberries. That is just how diverse and special her voice is!
Overall, if you are listening to Live in Ghent you most likely have some sort of clue who the hell Brutus is. And, if you are someone who has not been turned on to their music yet, do yourself a favor by picking up Burst and Nest right now. Which leads us to the next suggestion: get out and see this band as soon as it becomes possible. Until then, close your eyes and enjoy Live in Ghent, because Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.