From: Toronto, ON, Canada
Genre: Punk Rock/Melodic Hardcore
When we talk about punk rock it is often construed differently every time. For some people it is the sound of Bad Religion or The Descendents, for some it is the essence of mid 70’s New York birthing the likes of MC5, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Blondie. Feel free to throw in The Ramones too, who can pass as perveyors of almost any punk sub-genre when such a discussion is brought to the table. Whatever stance you prefer to take, the underlying current of passion and aggression is what we all feel when the need to describe something as “punk rock” rears its head.
The perfect representation of punk rock? Debatable. But given the base requirements of energy, (catchy) hooks, melody, thrash, anthemic choruses and, of course, speed, one would be at a major loss to not have Canada’s Brutal Youth in the hat. Starting out just six years ago, the 4-piece wasted no time releasing debut LP Spill Your Guts; a raw but decent foot in the door as they began circulating their name around the local scene. Honing their chemistry as they went along, it was not until 2013’s Stay Honest that the band really hit their stride with an absolute belter of a record. If you haven’t heard of Brutal Youth before then you have to start with this release. Yes, the new album is killer and there aren’t many better that you’ll hear this year, but you need to know them first and Stay Honest (honestly!) is the way to do it. If you like PEARS then you should love this and the same goes for bands like 28 Days, Frenzal Rhomb and Hagfish, who’s fun and unique melodic style, mixed with the hardcore energy of Gorilla Biscuits and CIV, results in 19-tracks of 1-2 minute opuses. If it had been released in 2016 then it would be in top contention for LP of the year. It wasn’t though… BUT! Sanguine was…
Released with almost no notice, third album Sanguine hit stores on 23rd September via Stomp Records and features 14 brand new punk rock numbers, for what is from beginning to end another melodic classic. Patty O’Lantern and crew seek natural progression and although sticking to a similar formula, have at least learned to move away from the high-hat count-ins prevalent on over 50% of Stay Honest‘s tracks. Because of the diversity and energy involved it really isn’t noticeable until you go back and quickly preview the first second or two of each track and realise they are exactly the same. It’s almost comedy, even moreso when the tracks are so individually amazing.
So they have differentiated themselves in one way… How about track length? Still in the 1-2 minute mark… Approved. Song themes? Fighting with self-acceptance and hand-on-sleeve emotional issues… Sticking with straight-edge hardcore morals… Approved. Tune structures? Maintaining the usual fundamentals, hitting hard with rough hardcore intros and transitioning with more melody as they progress (as much as you can progress in one minute that is). Do we have to approve again? Think you get the idea.
There is a bit of an underlying concept on Sanguine as the album is split into sections, opening with “I. Denial” – a fast punk number, fitting the aforementioned formula and hitting home with anthemic “woah ohs”, similar to that of the Swedish Pennywise-influenced Growing Pains with lyrics “Take these words for what they’re worth… You’ve got to hold on to what you’ve got”. Definitely a retrospective tale being told here as we move into “Chlorine” with its wall-to-wall hardcore making clear “there was nothing, between us”. Next up is the melodic gem of the album in the form of first video-single “The King”, which initially took a bit of growing but soon shone through with Patty’s unmistakable voice and “woah woahs” giving that trademark layer of pop to their otherwise rough and rugged, yet well mixed sound. No one is covering the elements of punk rock in such a precise way as Brutal Youth at the moment as they push the boundaries of everything that is great about the genre.
“II. Anger” brings us to the second chapter, again in the mould of a one-minute thrash-goes-melodic number, where lyrics “we’re talking in circles” repeat over what is for the most part very Suicidal Tendencies-esque before the final 10 seconds quickly cram in some more of those legendary early Offspring era “woah ohs”. “Rogue Thoughts” then feels like a raw mid-90’s era hardcore punk tune, with its hefty breakdown and, of course, fast catchy outro this time out of the Bad Religion camp. Via “Whiteway” and on to the speedy “Hostile Work Environment” we get a rapid-paced repetitive riff a lot like Voodoo Glow Skulls with its energy and “I’m always in the wrong place at the wrong time” drilled into the ears of the listener over a groove comparable to a much better and cleanly produced 98 Mute.
“Sandpit” continues with proof that the group have advanced their library of intros as the loud thrashy riff feeds a metal solo for what becomes another frantic journey abound with sick traditional hardcore breaks that’ll have you pulling windmills at your desk and stomping holes through the floor. “III. Bargaining” then takes us to the next stage, mixing a slight of garage rock with the familiar hardcore sound and lyrical content. Title track “Sanguine” reinforces what we already know and love about Brutal Youth, fast and powerful as you like with its loose bassline bridge and super-melodic “when you’re down in the gutter, keep your eyes on the stars” making it another sure contender for highlight of the album.
Moving into the far reaches of the story with “IV. Depression” a minor emotional/post-hardcore vibe sets in, complimentary to its theme, alongside thumping drums and an energetic Brutal Youth seal of authenticity. We then wind down the record keeping pace with the melodic-thrash of “Thick as Thieves” and more hardcore-based “Todd Serious” and “V. Acceptance”, providing a final ode to the formula and cranking out some farewell “woah ohs”.
What a great record from Brutal Youth and not an easy task given the calibre of their 2013 sophomore effort. You can stream Sanguine over at their Bandcamp Page here: http://brutalyouth.bandcamp.com/.
Also be sure to check out the band on the world wide web at the following links:
Last but not least, if you live in (or are close to) Canada, or are even on the other side of the world and just can’t wait to see Brutal Youth‘s energy-infused show, they have some concerts coming up this month with Psychobilly outfit The Creepshow:
10.22.16 Timmins, ON The Working Class
10.23.16 Thunder Bay, ON Pirates Bay
10.25.16 Winnipeg, MB Pyramid Cabaret
10.26.16 Regina, SK The Exchange
10.27.16 Lethbridge, AB Moose Lodge
10.28.16 Edmonton, AB The Needle Vinyl Tavern
10.29.16 Red Deer, AB The Vat
10.30.16 Calgary, AB Ship & Anchor
10.31.16 Calgary, AB Ship & Anchor