Review: Brink of Despair

Brink of Despair rooted in dust

BRINK_COVERThere is a certain temptation associated with speed in the crust scene. The common picking patterns offer a comforting normalcy. There is something pleasing in this for the listener as well, a comforting rhythm that keeps the head bobbing. Gearing down into the middle tempos is most often seen as a sort of set up for the take off. This all well and good, but it is just the slightest bit limiting. Perhaps the most appealing thing about Leipzig’s Brink of Despair is their willingness to hang about in the middle tempos without feeling the need to launch into hyper speed every fourth bar.

This takes a certain confidence in the one’s licks, and not every band could pull it off. If Tragedy spent long periods in this register, they were abetted in doing so by the fact that the crushing wall of sound that they were generating bludgeons all resistance into meek submission. Brink of Despair adopt on a more metallic approach. Where Tragedy relied on crushing chords and thick production, Brink of Despair have a rather sparser sound, featuring chunky metal licks and the occasional passage of single string melodics reminiscent of Stockholm death metal. Without the panacea of speed, BoD rely on subtle arrangements and dark atmosphere to get their point across. Occasionally they break out into a faster tempo and the contrast is made all the more powerful by the fact that it is so long in coming. For those immersed in the crust scene, this disc will inspire tension as one waits for the shift to the higher gear. More often than not it does not come, and the tension remains.

Their playing here is refreshingly raw. Simple riffs, played with conviction and thoughtfully arranged. The lyrics run to the personal rather than the political, which is all for the best, considering the singer sounds like he’s about to have a stroke. Maybe he needs this time to work all the shadows out. I’ve heard them compared to Alpinist, but I suspect that that had more to do with the fact that they are both from Germany. A more apt point of comparison would Sarabante, although BoD are slower and have noticeably more metallic ambiance.

This would have jumped to the top of my “Best of 2013” list if it hadn’t been released late last year. Why am I always the last to know these things? Better late than never. In the crowded, and often repetitive field of crust these days, the pleasure of finding something that sounds just that little bit different is an infrequent pleasure.


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