Brutality Over Sanity II
Black Heart, London
Review by Ann Sulaiman
Brutal death metal, better summed up as the “snuff movie version” of death metal, inevitably revels in exploitative stories of sex, death, and rape. This in itself doesn’t make it outright hostile to everyone, but simply means that it’s not going to appeal to all metalheads whether lyrically or musically; violent slams and vicious stomps aren’t going to be everyone’s tastes after all. Brutality Over Sanity wasn’t meant to please everyone not already into the genre, and this is what matters (though that single, stony-faced guy in a suit who got annoyed by all the headbanging and slam dancing was funny to watch).
The venue was already packed when local boys, Inebrious Incarnate, took the stage. True to their word as a band dedicated to death metal and booze, the foursome gave swaggering riffs and blastbeats to a set list focused on their love of alcohol. This even included a soundbite of Dylan Moran praising the habit, before blasting out third track ‘Moist and Garrulous’. That one-man act Carnifloor soon followed them – after a lengthy soundcheck – made a decent start to the fest.
Necrosis from Bristol, who were following Norwegians Kraanium and Spaniards Cerebral Effusion on tour, came on afterwards, and the difference between themselves and Italians Suicidal Causticity was interesting: where the former mostly focused on catchy hooks and vicious guitar slams to addictive effect, the latter were more complex in their riffs, which meant that people stood still rather than headbanged furiously in their appreciation.
Whether this could be that old stereotype about Southern Europeans taking a different attitude to things than the Brits or not feels irrelevant, however. After all, frontman Nikolas “Gorgo” still had the same, welcoming sense of humour as the London locals, when he invited the audience to growl with him. First time, they cheered. Second time, they did growl, but it was Gorgo’s deep growl drawn out into a grunt that prompted one person at the front to say, “You win!” to the light-hearted laughter of everyone present.
Bluntly, it was this feeling of intimacy and friendliness between everybody that helped make Brutality Over Sanity II an amazing festival. One of the strongest assets of the metal underground is its sense of community and brotherhood, which should be kept alive by bands and audience alike. It’s this spirit that helped heavy metal to breed in the early days, and its the same spirit that sees metalheads as generally loyal and welcoming to their own from all walks of life.
It was also this spirit that saw cheeky Londoners, Unfathomable Ruination, come up on stage and banter with the crowd. After a few laughs between themselves and the sound engineers at the back of the venue, the band began their set as well as the first moshpit of the day. ‘Suspended in Entropic Dissipation’ and ‘Carved Inherent Delusion’ were typical of their sound’s balance between addictive, brutal grooves and technical drum and guitar rhythms, which is how they stand as one of the London scene’s best kept secrets.
Sadly, the technical problems in the venue came up again, just as Romans Devangelic were about to start. Though it did take a while to sort this out, soon enough the group were able to play. Frontman Paolo grunted his way through songs like ‘Crown of Entrails’ and ‘Disfigured Embodiment’, while slow guitar grooves marked Devangelic’s music with sinister darkness.
Soon, it was time for the main headliners, Kraanium and Cerebral Effusion, to play. In the middle of a mini-UK tour, both bands were prepared to set up an hour each of slam dancing and headbanging in The Black Heart. There’s the typical cliche of “saving the best for last”, and true enough, this fitted the headliners’ slots well.
In the case of Kraanium, this was shown through evened out guitar slams and timed rhythms, which kept their sound strong and tight without losing any vicious riffs. Leadman Martin Funderud invited everyone at the front to mosh and slam, which they did with vigour to songs like ‘Slammed Kranial Remains’, ‘Stench of Putrid Innards’ and ‘Double Barrel Penetration’. Though news sound bites were aired before each track for a bit of context (if not sensationalism), this didn’t take away from the fun had first and foremost through the music.
Then Cerebral Effusion came. I’m sorry to say that technical difficulties briefly reared their ugly head for a while, though they were gone before the band had begun their set. Silver-haired frontman Cosme was charming enough to make the wait less irritating with his charismatic Mediterranean accent and commentary, then finally launched right into each song with guttural ferocity.
Violent excess and mindless fun is a musical must for brutal death metal. And adding a layer of darkness for atmosphere – be it evil or black humour – never hurt anyone, and it certainly didn’t hurt Cerebral Effusion, as they played to a packed crowd in the venue. Whereas peers Kraanium highlighted the fun side of Brutality Over Sanity fest, you could say that this group showed off its sinister side as songs ‘Into Morbid Obesity’, Last Torture Preferment’ and ‘Epidemic Of the Era’ were but example s of dark humour and emphasised riffs.