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After counting the number of times we’ve seen Brutus on our hands, we thought we were ready for the show. Even smiling Stephanie Mannerts, who was on drums, and her buddies strode onto the stage and docked without shuddering: first “Liar” and then “War,” respectively the best song for their latest album Unison Life and Issue 11 of StuBru’s Heaviest List. Ten minutes away, the butcher shop Mannerets cut several rump into ribs.
Many, but not all are what they seem. During “what have we done” we saw some people leaving the tent. It made us doubt for a second whether metal bands really belonged in the Marquees, but then “What Have We Done” came along and silenced us. Guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden reached for the heavens with a post-rock event, bassist Peter Moulders went for the quake and Stephanie Mannerts let sparks fly from her sticks, sweating and shedding tears.
What sets Brutus apart, and what gradually brought them into the Belgian and European metal hall of fame, is the tension between hard and soft. It’s as if the musicians can see in every head nod excitedly in front of them: After every violent act of a song you can rest your head on their shoulder for a moment, but at the slightest hint of relaxation, the Mannaerts begin to pound leather and metal like they’ve done it wrong.
If the sound of the ‘Victoria’ drums was beer, Duvel’s was: powerful and incomparable. If he were a cultivator, all that nitrogen would have been blown out of the air a long time ago. When the Mannaerts count down, the gates of the realm open as she drinks pints in mugs, everyone wears the Deftones band shirt and she herself the enlightened despot. With four thousand lashes you will not be punished, but rewarded.
‘All Along’ was slashing metal in disguise – Lars Ulrich is known for the Brutus sticker on his walk – and ‘Sugar Dragon’ was falling from the sky. At Mannaerts butchery it could be a little more, it seems. I want a half pound of blasting beats, five slices of raw vibes on the house and four and a half stars please.
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