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Brutality – The Complete Demo Recordings 1987 – 1991

The Complete Demo Recordings 1987 – 1991
by Alex Barnard at 19 July 2021, 7:03 PM

BRUTALITY is one of the original Tampa Bay Death Metal bands. This year – May 26, 2021 to be exact – the Utrecht-based record label VIC Records released a compilation of all of BRUTALITY’s demo recordings from 1987 – 1991. For those readers who love Tampa Bay Death Metal as much as I do, this compilation is a must have.

The band really picked the most fitting name to describe their music. The riffs are fast, dissonant and heavy. The lyrics are gory, putrid and bloodstained. Larry Sapp’s voice sounds like the perfect mix between Kyle Thomas of EXHORDER, Max Cavalera of SEPULTURA and Tom Araya of SLAYER. And – perhaps the biggest surprise of all – while it’s not perfect, the production of (most of) these demos is way better than what one would expect from a demo, especially from this era. I would even go so far as to say the production of these demos rivals the quality of “Altars of Madness” or “Scream Bloody Gore,” and it certainly outmatches the quality of similar demos like “Death By Metal,” by MANTAS, Chuck Schuldiner’s pre-DEATH band.

The first three tracks on this compilation are taken from the group’s 1991 demo “Metamorphosis.” “Mausoleum of Infringing Evil” starts off slow and doomy with a dissonant, Kerry-King-on-steroids solo before Gates breaks in with his brutal vocals. “The Body Before Me” follows, a straight up headbanging masterpiece filled with tremolo-picked, down-tuned riffs and Pete Sandoval-esque blast beats. The track also is the only one to feature bassist Jeff Acres on lead vocals, but his growling is so brutal that he makes a formidable vocal counterpart to bandmate Gates. Finally, “Hideous Mutation,” with its various thrashy passages, belch-like demonic growls and multiple time signature changes, is a quintessential example of the raw power of Tampa Bay Death Metal.

The next eight tracks are taken from the band’s 1990 demo, “Dimension Demented.” The title track is a head-spinning instrumental piece, filled with chromatic runs and riffs played at breakneck speeds that brings us into the track, “Hell on Earth.” The lyrics are slightly sophomoric, as the constant references to being nagged and bitched at make it sound like Gates’ target was either his girlfriend or his mother.  Either way, it’s simultaneously heavy as hell. “Lust for Sex” is a fast-paced track that details the speaker’s horniness and desire for kinky sex. Here, Gates’ vocals sound quite like Peter Steele’s during the CARNIVORE years.

Another highlight from this demo album is “Narcoticous Adictous,” which laments the dangers of drug addiction. Full of crazy riffs and incredible basslines, the song is ultra-heavy. Finally, “Frozen Amputee” sounds like an atomic mixture of EXHORDER and MOTÖRHEAD, with hints of AUTOPSY thrown in for good measure.

Unfortunately, the production quality of the last four demos is a little lacking. The guitars sound thin and fuzzy, and the drums and bass sound incredibly buried underneath Gates’ vocals. Yet, at the same time, they demonstrate a sheer ferocity that can only be described, once again, by the band’s name. Whether the quality is there or not, BRUTALITY lets us know either way that they are not to be fucked with.

If you love the gloriously gruesome sound of Tampa Bay Death Metal, you have to listen to this compilation. BRUTALITY were able to flawlessly demonstrate, from a very young age, the hallmarks of the sound that has come to define and influence American Death Metal for decades, and these demos show those hallmarks in spades.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Production: 5
Memorability: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Mausoleum of Infringing Evil
2. The Body Before Me
3. Hideous Mutation
4. Dimension Demented
5. Hell on Earth
6. Lust for Sex
7. Ignitics
8. My First Night
9. Narcoticous Adictous
10. Frozen Amputee
11. World War III
12. Lust for Sex (Demo 1988)
13. Ignitics (Demo 1988)
14. Hell on Earth (Demo 1988)
Jeff Acres – Bass, Vocals (track 2)
Jim Coker – Drums
Larry Sapp – Guitar, Vocals
Don Gates – Guitar (tracks 1-3)
Record Label: Vic Records


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