Brutus – Liar

I’ve yet to find a better introduction to Brutus than this video for “War.” A closeup shot of Stefanie Mannaerts offering a stunning vocal performance through the opening ballad section. As the song goes on, the camera pulls away to reveal that she’s sitting behind a drum set, just in time for the song to erupt in a fusion of hardcore and post-metal fury, her drumming flanked by the pummeling bass work of Peter Mulders and the soaring guitars of Stijn Vanhoegaerden. After that powerful introduction, I was poised to take in whatever Brutus wanted to give me—a receptiveness that has never failed me.

Thursday, the Belgian power trio released “Liar,” along with an announcement of their upcoming album Unison Life.

The single hits everything we’ve come to expect from Brutus. After a discordant guitar riff, it explodes into a punk double time with Mannaerts’ voice singing with a fiery passion. The two-step of the verses gives way to a half-time anthemic chorus, Vanhogaerden leaving the ragged chords of the verse for an angular lead line. After a couple repeats of verses and choruses, everything but vocals and a single note bass pulse pull back for the bridge. After a few lines of vocals, guitars slowly start to build on a countermelody until the band explodes on a breakdown of the same melody structure. They return to the verse and chorus once more, with even more fury than before, if that could have happened.

Mannaerts’ lyrics are cryptic, but moving. The thread seems to be a person who has had their trust shattered becoming a liar on their own, a vicious cycle that causes the breakdown of even our closest relationships. The refrain reads, “another day into the darkness / I am the silence in your song / So close, no matter where you are / but today I am the liar.” The video perhaps gives some context, portraying her in a cult-like group with robes and masks, eventually shedding her own mask and escaping.

But when the music is this powerful, I’m not sure understanding the lyrics is that important. The truth is, this song rips—just like everything they’ve done before. Along with last month’s single “Dust,” Unison Life is poised to give Brutus the hat trick.

Unison Life is out October 21 through Sargent House.

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