BLOOD AND BRUTALITY: Fatal
Release year: 2020
Label: Blood And Brutality Records
The short and concise promo sheet wishes to pinpoint this as pure death metal by saying, and I quote, the album sounds “the way a death metal album should sound like!” On the other hand, the band have described themselves as a death/thrash hybrid. And upon listening to the album, it very soon becomes clear neither is really true. Blood And Brutality have far more going on in their sound than that.
And it’s both a blessing and a curse for the one-man outfit from Alabama.
On the one hand, the sheer amount of variation and the number of differing elements combined on Fatal ensures the album isn’t cut from one cloth and doesn’t become samey. On the other hand, it’s a bit too much all over the place.
The basic foundation is a combination of old school death metal with vicious thrashing elements. But there’s also more than a bit of melodic death metal, the thrashing elements ensuring thoughts go towards artists like At The Gates. Then there are some very strong crossover elements leaning heavily towards a gruff hardcore expression – The Last Rites is nothing but a hardcore song in a metal guise. And it doesn’t stop there: the last song proper on the album, Bloodshed Of Man, evolves during its hefty 9 minute, 17 second duration towards a melodic, sorrowful expression not too dissimilar from the weeping melodies of the British gothic death-doomsters of yore; think Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride or – hopping eastwards – early Katatonia.
So, it’s safe to say Fatal really is all over the place. Melodic riffs and thrashing rhythms, crossover/hardcore elements, a dollop of gothic death/doom melancholia, classic death metal, even the occasional more progressive moment, and gruff shouted vocals which are more thrash-slash-hardcore than death metal… what a potpourri this is! The upside of this is, to reiterate, that the album doesn’t become boring. It also masks, at least for a while, the fact that whilst the album is quite adequate, in the end very little of it is particularly impressive or memorable. There’s a lot here, but a lot of it comes across as being a bit too much by-the-numbers, which is the major downside of the album.
Instead of focusing on one or two elements and executing them to perfection, Blood And Brutality seem to throw a bit of everything at the wall and hope enough sticks to make the album worth it.
And it almost works. But not quite. Ultimately, there’s just too much flailing around between styles, but too little of actual depth here. After a few listens, Fatal starts to sound more like a showcase performance of the length and breadth of styles sole member Arant can play. Which in itself is kind of cool, but the result is more than a bit soulless.
Fatal is not a bad album by any means. It’s just too unfocused to rise above mediocrity more than momentarily.