ALBUM REVIEW: Brodequin - Harbinger of Woe

ALBUM REVIEW: Brodequin - Harbinger of Woe

American death metal band Brodequin have risen from their slumber with their fourth album Harbinger of Woe through Season of Mist. This is the band's first studio album in ten years.  The band made a mark in the death metal scene with their brutal debut Instruments of Torture in 2000. Dying Fetus front man John Gallagher named this album one of the most brutal death metal albums in his opinion. The band would continue their brutal legacy with Festival of Death in 2001. They followed that up in 2004 with Methods of Execution, the band's last studio album before the band had to go on a hiatus due to personal matters. With Brodequin coming back in full force with their new album, does this record deliver the intensity and brutality the band takes its name from?

The album opens with the song "Diabolical Edict". WIth a grindcore like opening guitar riff and pounding drums by Brennan Shackelford, the album is off to a strong brutal start. Immediately, you can tell this is the band's best production quality out of all of their albums. Bassist and vocalist Jamie Bailey's guttural vocals instantly channel the brutality of the likes of Dying Fetus. A chugging, heavy palm muted riff throughout the verses leads the charge in the intensity and aggression. I love the doomy, slow down breakdown section with the guitar and bass ringing out while the drums go berserk on it. Classic Brodequin track and an impressive start for the album. "Fall of The Leaf" has a pummeling double bass opening by Shackelford. Matched with unhinged guitar by Mike Bailey, then the entrance of Jamie's deep, guttural and gurgle-like vocals. I love the chugging riff throughout the trick, including that classic groove-esque slam quality sound of the brutal death metal genre. The track flies by with it's aggressive drumming, brutal and chugging guitars and deep gutturals. The eerie, ominous choir like build of "Theresiana" gives off a Nile like vibe before the brutality kicks the door in and the song is off and running. Brodequin does not slow down or give the listener any break in the song. Instantly blasting, chugging and just bringing the heaviness for the whole three minute runtime. It is a chug fest of a track and so guttural and deep in the vocal performance. The band shows that even though they've been gone, they haven't missed a single step.  

On "Of Pillars and Trees", the song has a fast-paced opening double bass and heavy old-school-esque death metal riff. The song is fast, heavy, brutal and unrelenting in the band's delivery. Shackelford shines on the track, being the showcase on the drums throughout the riff machines of the Baileys. I can picture the pit going crazy when this song is performed live. I love the bass peaking through around the halfway mark at certain parts, into the atmospheric cry to the sky vocal screams. Shackelford's double bass PUMMELS in the mix and just dominates the track, amidst the atmospheric tremolo like guitars of that section. Jamie's vocals are even lower in this section of the song as the song picks up pacing and sprinting to the finish line screaming and throwing fists like it was in the pit. "Tenailement" again doesn't let up with its pounding opening strikes. The gutturals almost accent the guitars at certain parts of the song. Even getting some oomph from the bass. The song is just unrelenting, grindcore-esque speed you'd get from the death metal era of Napalm Death with the drumming and the guitar playing. The riff after the halfway mark, begins to delve into the technical aspect of death metal. With start/stop pacing, fretboard hopping and tremolo playing and matching drums by Shackelford, only to slow back down after a pinch harmonic.

With "Maleficium" the brutality freight train continues with drums and guitars just beating the listener over the head with technical proficiency and speed. I do like the elements in the vein of black metal guitar playing around the quarter mark, adding a new dimension and unease to the track. The song is just merciless in the brutality, the ongoing theme of the album and it's performance from these brutal death metal legends. "VII Nails" also has the same unrelenting visceral sound the band has delivered on the record. Shackelford is just a machine on this track and I think is the secret weapon to the impressive heaviness and complexity in the band's sound with this album. The pummeling continues with "Vredens Dag". The riff has elements of slamming death metal you'd get from Suffocation, but going even heavier with Jamie's unmatched guttural lows. I LOVE the chugging breakdown section at the end of the track.

Drums kick off "Suffocation in Ash". The Bailey's unrelenting riffing of chugs and technical playing is impressive, matched along by Shackelford on the track. The song is heavy on the brutal death metal trademark "Bree" vocals but it works in the right amount. It's not the grating pig squeal sound that gets overused in the genre. The riff is heavy as all hell behind it. The atmospheric screams in the background after the halfway mark, add that technical death metal accent of filling the space of the mix. Creating new dimension in the sound amidst the punishing brutality of the song. This is my favorite track off the album.

The album closes with the title track. Drums again pound hard and punch in the mix, among the chugging main riff of the track. Shackelford punches through with the double bass, along with the slamming riff of the Baileys. The track is gutturally low, chugging and heavy in it's pacing and instantly made me stank face throughout it. Especially right before the halfway mark, going into a short breakdown with atmospheric guitars and driving double bass. Then, amping the intensity back up again, and going for the throat through the halfway mark. The track closes with the rest of the song being one, long, pummeling, low and slow break down with pounding double bass at the end of it, closing out the mighty return of Brodequin.

Brodequin returned with an impressive and strong record. The band went for the jugular from the opening track to the closing minutes of the title track. I was excited that Brodequin were working on new material and was stoked for this new record to finally come out. They still put their intensity, performance, and musical talent above all else and commanding the listener with this record. Placing them higher among a lot of the brutal death metal bands that are out there today. Brodequin fans will be happy that these brutal legends have returned with full force and delivered a sonic punch to the throat with this album. Brodequin is back and I hope they are here to stay. The fan's patience will be rewarded with this album.

SCORE: 10 / 10

1) Diabolical Edict

2) Fall of The Leaf

3) Theresiana

4) Of Pillars and Trees

5) Tenailement

6) Maleficium

7) VII Nails

8) Vredens Dag

9) Suffocation in Ash

10) Harbinger of Woe

FFO: Deeds of Flesh, Dying Fetus, Defeated Sanity

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