Brutal Truth - Sounds of the Animal Kingdom
Relapse Records
Experimental Grindcore
22 songs (1:14:14)
Release year: 1997
Relapse Records
Reviewed by Aaron
Archive review

After the polarizing album that followed Brutal Truth's grindcore masterpiece, Need to Control, the band probably realized the futility and self-defeat of the direction introduced on Kill Trend Suicide, which was merely soulless aping of their still-excellent debut, Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses. Instead of once again bowing to the forces that demand a lack of innovation, Brutal Truth revved up, went into the studio, and came back into the playing field with Sounds of the Animal Kingdom.

At the time of Sounds of the Animal Kingdom... let us be frank, most extreme metal styles were considered dead. Thrash was of course completely gone from the mass consciousness at that time, black metal had left the golden age of Norway's domination behind and was only beginning to resurface in other countries, death metal had been wheezing for years, and grindcore... well, Napalm Death was releasing mediocre albums, Discordance Axis hadn't released Jou Hou yet, and Nasum hadn't entered the game with Inhale/Exhale as of 1997, so pretty much all of those styles were floundering like diseased fish.

Sounds of the Animal Kingdom was yet another anomaly, a record just as sharp and maddeningly innovative as Need to Control, if not nearly as successful, and not quite as consistently brilliant either. Nonetheless, it's certainly deserving of a place in any grind-fan's collection.

The production is likely the first thing you'll notice about the album. It's insanely -almost maddeningly- organic. The drums sound completely natural, the guitars have a strange wall-of-rocks sound to them, and Kevin Sharp's vocals hit exaggerated roars and audible screeches like some sort of deranged 800-pound gorilla. The production is extremely unique, to say the least. I've never heard another one quite like it.

Speaking of the players, they all do especially well here. Brent McCarthy's riffs roll off the strings like a well-chucked rock, and though he's certainly no slouch at the normal atonality and battering, relentless speed that grindcore's known for, he can also bring the groove like not many others in the genre when it's needed (see Jemenez Cricket and other songs). Dan Lilker is a bass visionary par usual and though I wish he was mixed a bit higher (the bass is neglected too often in grindcore) he does excellently despite that. And it goes without saying that Rich Hoak does wonderfully on the drums, balancing straight-ahead speed with just about everything else you could think of.

The big problem lies in the record's inconsistency. It opens strong with Dementia, which starts with a recorded voice sample and then segues into a high choppy riff, right back into a punk-influenced sludgy guitar storm with Kevin Sharp's inimitable yelling over the whole thing. Then it veers into a riff that can only be described as 'totally demented' before finally veering to a stop and allowing the next song to take control of your eardrums. So far, so good right?

The songs about follow the formula of arty, hard-to-predict grindcore with crazy riff and time changes and impossible-to-detect structure until Jemenez Cricket, which is when you realize, if you haven't already, how special of a band Brutal Truth really was. It's a completely out-of-left-field churning groove-death-grind song with Kevin Sharp sounding like James Hetfield-circa ...And Justice For All who got so pissed he exploded into a cloud of blood right after the recording. The main riff would be good enough to keep you listening right through the whole thing even without the strange droning sections and catchy chorus (yes, catchy chorus. Scream-along sorta thing).

After that total surprise, we keep going along that path with the usual experimentation and strange riffing patterns interspersed with blasting angry grindcore, and you're thinking 'This is great... but if only there were more songs like xJemenez Cricket...'

Well, after Average People (Fiend) finishes searing the inside of your head, you'll hear... yes, an industrial noise collage! Stretched out samples of a woman screaming 'an eye for an eye... an eye for an eye...' and the pathetic blubbering of the truly villanous are juxtaposed with the roar and crash of the waves. Welcome to Blue World... the best Brutal Truth song ever recorded.

At around the three-minute mark, we get the first riff, and trust me when I say it was worth the wait. I catch myself humming this damn thing in the shower, not anything I thought you could do with grind. Kevin Sharp is buried in the mass of riffs and bass and drums and he's screaming to get out. The whole song is like an eminent personification of getting crushed into nothing by the march of time. There's no point in trying to describe it, you just have to hear it for yourself.

Unfortunately... this is where the flaws rear their ugly heads. Right after Blue World we have an extremely straightforward few songs, and they're a colossal disappointment in comparison. While the record revs up again around the dynamic punk-influenced Dead Smart and the temperately beautiful Sympathy Kiss keeping the good songs running through Pork Farm, it just bobbles down again only to start up once more around Postulate then Liberate, and then we hit It's After The End of the World, a haunting cover made up of desperate-sounding people screaming the title. Machine Parts follows, and it's the last great song on the record.

Then, after one more, we hit Prey. Prey is terrible, there's no way around it. There's a statement in there, but all it really boils down to is a four-second sound sample repeated until the song is 24 minutes long with varying levels of distortion. It's an experiment, but a mind-numbingly boring one.

And there you have it, the last Brutal Truth record, a mix of insane highs and devastating lows. It deserves a listen for Blue World alone, but it's too monotonous and inconsistent to be a masterpiece.

Killing Songs :
Dementia, Fucktoy, Jemenez Cricket, Average People (Fiend), Blue World, Sympathy Kiss, Dead Smart, Pork Farm, Postulate then Liberate, It's After the End of the World, Machine Parts
Aaron quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Brutal Truth that we have reviewed:
Brutal Truth - End Time reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Brutal Truth - Evolution Through Revolution reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Brutal Truth - Need to Control reviewed by Aaron and quoted CLASSIC
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