Over the course of this year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Leuven, Belgium-based post-rock trio BRUTUS, and as you may recall, with the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s Burst, the Belgian trio, comprised of Stefanie Mannaerts (drums, vocals), Stijn Vanhoegaerden (guitar) and Peter Mulders (bass) quickly developed a national and international presence, despite the fact that they’ve achieved it with a sound shaped by necessity: Mannaerts adopted vocal duties because no one else would. Since Burst’s release, they’ve toured with JOVM mainstay Chelsea Wolfe, Thrice, Russian Circles, and played the major heavy EU festivals. Adding to a growing profile, Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich has proudly championed the Belgian trio.
Their Jesse Gander-produced sophomore album Nest was released earlier this year through Sargent House Records. And while the album finds the band making a concerted effort to write tight songs with an expanded sound, the album also finds the band’s Mannaerts fully embracing her dual roles as vocalist and drummer. Thematically speaking, the material focuses on the path the trio have taken together to get to the euphoric highs of achieving a lifelong dream.But there’s underlying moments of deep, introspection, in which they all consider the individual choices they’ve made to get there — and the impact those choices had on their loved ones, and those who they’ve left behind. And as a result, the material possesses a strangely uncomfortable yet necessary friction between wanting to continue their forward progression and a desire to maintain and cherish those connections to all that they love at home. But is that possible when you’ve taken such enormous risks to achieve something extraordinary? And when the things you’ve seen, done and experienced have become so different than those of your peers, can you keep that connection?
I previously wrote about three album singles: “War,” a track that alternated between dreamy and ruminative showcase and aggressive and forceful thrash metal, with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks; “Cemetery,” a track that found the band effortlessly riding doom metal, thrash metal, shoegaze, hardcore punk and stoner rock; and the concise and force “Django.” “Sugar Dragon,” Nest’s latest single continues a run of material that manages to simultaneously be intimate and deeply introspective and explosively cathartic; painterly and gorgeous shoegaze that feels like a painter’s brushstrokes across the canvas and pummeling metal with fiery guitar pyrotechnics. And much like its predecessors, the song captures the bleak and raw ache of taking stock of oneself and their lives — completely alone.