Rhys Fulber needs no introduction at this point, and even after over three decades, he is as prolific as ever. With his latest solo effort drawing inspiration from his relocation from the sprawling concrete jungle of Los Angeles to a coastal town near Vancouver where the ravages of the modern world upon nature are less intrusive, Brutal Nature presents these contrasts in varying degrees of intensity. The rush of pumping EBM/techno that permeates tracks like the opening “Central State Institute,” the cinematic “Pyrrhic Act,” or the nigh robotic “Rogue Minority” create a steady rhythmic spine upon which layers of electronic distortions and effects build to states of anxiety and tension; the beats recede, and the swelling of ambient pads lurking just above take prominence to plunge the listener into grand habitats of a world uncluttered by technology… but these are but brief respites, for the beats return, the bass progressions insidiously gaining in traction, and the merger of steel and soil is brought to sometimes abrupt but audibly satisfying conclusions. Some tracks like “Marginalized,” “Pressure” with its funky grooves of slapping beats and organic violins, and the closing “Stare at the Sun,” which featuring a guest performance by Youth Code’s Sara Taylor, bear resemblance to Fulber’s work in Front Line Assembly thanks to their more industrialized and metallic tones. Others like “Chemical” and “Fragility” have a more refreshing IDM ambience about them, with glitchy swells of pianos and fluttering keyboard trills bouncing across the speakers like birds in a gray sonic sky, Jeza’s vocal accompaniments eerily haunting, yet soothing and familiar.
Although 2020 saw the release of the Resolve EP, that material was culled from material created during the sessions for his two previous albums; consequently, it can be said that Brutal Nature is more properly the follow-up to 2019’s Ostalgia – written and recorded during the tumultuous circumstances of the last two years, and reflecting perhaps some of the legendary musician/producer’s most intimate and personal work yet. Given Fulber’s remarkable pedigree, it would perhaps an exercise in futility to attempt to assess the aesthetics and production quality of Brutal Nature… it goes without saying that they would be of a higher caliber than most, leaving us to simply ponder the thematic elements of each track and the sonic environment that Fulber has immersed his listeners in. In that, the album is a resounding success from an artist at the height of his craft.