Plagued by member changes and after releasing a couple of pretty disappointing albums at the end of 2014, Brutality Will Prevail’s stock had taken a real hit. As one of UK Hardcore’s leading lights in the early 2000’s they built up a following alongside other alumni such as Hang the Dastard, Last Witness and Dead Swans. After their disappointing album Scatter The Ashes I was pretty cautious to ensure that I didn’t get my hopes up too much when listening to their new album In Dark Places.
My caution was completely unnecessary as BWP have really pulled it out of the bag with this sludge influenced hardcore album. Gone are the distracting clean vocals of Suspension of Consciousness and big riffs are in. The album has some great moments and even a Cure influenced closer but all this pales in comparison to their first single of this album Forever Restless.
Opening with a lone clean soloing guitar playing a catchy haunting melody over light, Forever Restless immediately draws comparisons to new-school bands like Harms Way and their older influences like Bolt Thrower. The guitar weaves for 30 seconds before being joined by a sludgy second guitar, a distorted bass and a cymbal heavy drums part, layering the reverb-heavy intro riff on top. The intro shows real restraint, rather than throwing an aggressive riff in from the start. BWP build tension with a slow grinding but also catchy opener. The solo line descends into squealing feedback and an aggressive drum roll. The cloud of tension splits with an effortless tempo change led by a brilliant, crunchy, and so, so catchy riff. Using a beautifully overdriven Marshall sound, the stop-start riff is soon joined by the throaty vocals joining the rhythm of the lead guitar. The commanding complement with the riff beautifully until a brief pause at 2:00.
Briefly the tempo slows and the guitars switch to block chords to bring the vocals to centre stage. Here the vocalist, Louis Gauthier, shows his true flexibility changing the inflection of the lyrics to make them sound huge. While the verses are accusatory, in your face, with Gauthier’s finger pointing at you and his spittle spraying your face, the choruses are directed to the sky as if the Gauthier is shouting at god above.
Quickly after this moment of self-indulgence the kick-ass riff re-emerges with the vocals reverting back from questioning, to declaring in a commanding sneer that will get bodies moving live. The song gifts us another verse and bridge in the same fashion, with the vocals continuing to bounce along with the fun, flighty main riff. A key detail of the second verse is that a single line of the lead vocalist’s lyrics is answered by furious gang-vocals adding a dangerous live feel to the accomplished song. The introduction of gang vocals is like going to surround sound after using a regular speaker set, it’s immersive and visceral. If you were thinking “where is the breakdown” just hold your breath for the last quarter. This is where the first real mosh riff hits in. Initially, the song teases what is to come with a brief interruption as we return to our original theme accompanied by a single line of more questioning hoarse vocals: “God rest my soul! But leave my body COLD.” It is melodramatic and heavy all at the same time.
We then move to a slower sludgy dirty breakdown riff with occasional melodic reprieves to keep it clever and exciting. This song deserves to end in a breakdown with the work done in tempo and thematic changes throughout building tension and the aggression throughout the song. The song then suddenly cuts out. That’s your lot. There are so many good songs on this new album with various mixes of slow sludgy riffing, accusatory lyrics and faster old school riffs, but Forever Restless is the king of them all.