Bloody Brotherhood - Don't Break The Circle - (8.5/10)
Published on April 10, 2019
I admit to not being completely well-versed in Spanish death metal, but old school death metal in general is totally my bag. Hailing from the Basque country, Bloody Brotherhood are death metallers of the old school ilk with everything to show for it: the horror movie aesthetic, the vaguely occult imagery, the gritty production quality, the riffs, the riffs and more of the riffs. This came at just the right time; when I had almost written off old school death metal for 2019. Last year gave us the likes of Skeletal Remains and Gruesome who completely ruled the roost, but this year Bloody Brotherhood stand head and shoulders above what little competition there’s been so far. Are you a fan of Obituary? Massacre? Scream Bloody Gore-era Death? I know I am. If so, Don’t Break The Circle is exactly what you’re looking for. 2015’s Ritual Of Blood was a damn decent effort, but this new release inflates and enhances everything about the debut – hell, it’s almost twice as long!
There’s something oddly satisfying about sticking to your guns and ploughing through an entire record with simplicity at the helm. I’m not disparaging the talents of the band members. After all, there are some blistering sections on this record – though they are sparsely scattered. I’m merely applauding their obvious delight in something we should all enjoy on a primal level: massive chugging riffs. Frequently, the bombastic timbre will channel down to a tribal, caveman-esque chug in which B.B. test just how many riffs can be made out of frets 1 and 3. Fucking shit tons, as it turns out. It’s glorious! Within three minutes of the opener, “Into The Darkness”, your neck is already aching from being punched in the face whilst headbanging recklessly to the kinds of riffs Six Feet Under wish they wrote (especially at 2:52 – that’s a banger).
Even though this is very clearly a pure death metal album in spirit, there are times where it verges on being death/doom. Don’t Break The Circle thrives off its ability to switch between furious blast-beat sections and sludgy, doom-laden slow-burners. And there are definitely more of the latter than the former. The title-track displays this trait perfectly, letting the elephantine crunch of the slow segments breathe before melting our faces with a brief blast of death. “The Impaler” is almost a pure doom song, and there are many points where I wonder if I’m listening to Soulmass or some other great death/doom outfit. Another trait B.B. share with death/doom artists is the sheer length. At 64 minutes, this sort of duration is not usually what I enjoy in my death metal. But the Basque boys cram so many memorable, enjoyable, headbangable parts into this disc, I am fully immersed in the six, seven, eight – even nine-minute – tracks.
Yes, this is a big listen. Possibly a little too bloated at points. But I can honestly say there’s not one moment where I am not entertained. Even the ambient intro and outro have their place (and I love how the outro ends – makes me wanna hit ‘play’ all over again!). For those struggling with their attention span through the multi-faceted epics like “Behind The Sacrifice”, I highly recommend “Into The Darkness”, “Kingdom Of Evil” and the frenzied “Sword Of Ignorance” (another great example of snappy fast-to-slow switching). Either way the lovably raw production quality chock full of reverb, slightly off-kilter drumming and grisly guitar tones should hook even the most sceptical of death metallers. Lyrically this is nothing special, but the distant dual-attack growls are just the right timbre for the album. Breaking no boundaries, but thoroughly encapsulating what we all love about old school death metal, Don’t Break The Circle is a colossal and fun romp through the underworld, and it’s convinced me to keep my eyes on these Spaniards. Applause for the death metal album of the year so far!