“We’ll probably have a few beers after the show and sing the Welsh National Anthem in a pub somewhere. It’ll probably confuse a lot of people, but we can also represent our great nation.”
It’s St. David’s day and Nick Rix, guitarist and chief songwriter of Cardiff’s most ferocious band live and on record Brutality Will Prevail is pondering how the group will celebrate the day dedicated to the Welsh patron saint. It’s come as an afterthought to the band, given they’re close to releasing their fifth album, ‘In Dark Places’, and are currently situated in Zurich on the sixth night of a European tour supporting Dutch hardcore icons No Turning Back and Portland thrashers Cruel Hand. There’s plenty to celebrate beyond national heritage.
“The tour’s been awesome, people have seemed to be enjoying the new songs we’re playing which is always a plus, and everyone in this touring package is wicked,” Nick says. “It’s a good diverse hardcore lineup, you’ve got the straight up punky hardcore then you have the heavier end, so it’s all good. We’re definitely off to a good start.”
Taking part in a European tour this early into 2017 feels like a smart choice on BWP’s part. Days away from the UK leaving the European Union, musicians are preparing for complications that will arise for future touring, specifically the trying process of applying for work visas. “When Brexit happened, because we get to play shows across Europe a lot and love coming over here, one of the first things that came to my mind was ‘it could be a great difficulty to come back over.’” Nick says.
“It’s an unfortunate card we’ve given to ourselves, and I hope it doesn’t get to the point where we have to pay a lot for work visas to play over here. It’s expensive enough to try and be in a band let alone without these extra costs involved, so it’s a great shame.”
Nick’s concern is echoed across the underground music community, and has created an air of disbelief which impacts songwriting on both a conscious and subconscious level. “I wouldn’t ever class our band as political. Obviously politics is a big concern to a lot of us and our fans and people take a lot of input from it, but we’ve never gone too much into detail on that topic. But when Louis [Gauthier, vocals] was writing the lyrics for ‘In Dark Places’, it did have some impact on what he was saying.”
The world often seems bleaker than this time in 2014, when Brutality Will Prevail were on everyone’s lips after releasing fourth record ‘Suspension of Consciousness’ on Century Media Records. Maybe there’s a direct link between BWP’s time out the spotlight and the decline of the developed world. Were they keeping the world at peace? “That’s a good compliment, but I don’t think that’s the case,” Nick responds. “Maybe once the album’s out the world will start to heal, but I doubt it.”
So, ‘In Dark Places’ might not save the world, but there’s no question it has saved BWP, after relentless touring of ‘Suspension of Conciousness’ left them exhausted. “We all took a step back after touring quite hard, I think we just wanted a break after really going for it,” explains Nick. “It was never a planned hiatus, we all just got a bit lazy and during that time some members left, others came back and others left again.”
“It was sort of nice because we were sat thinking ‘What should we do? Should we call it a day, or should we make another record?’ Then Marc [Richards], our drummer re-joined the group, and we’ve been best friends since the age of eleven and been in every band together. So we got together and said, ‘Well let’s just write some songs and see how we do, then we wrote the album. We took about a year, going back and forth, coming up with songs and getting rid of other songs until we were happy with the nine tracks we came up with for ‘In Dark Places’.”
The result of Nick and Marc’s year of writing is a record that pulls no punches with it’s in-your-face savagery, unleashing concrete blocks of downtempo riffage over concrete metallic grooves, like receiving a slow beating. “When me and Marc got writing again, we thought, ‘let’s just do what we’ve always done and started writing the darkest, heaviest riffs and it just sort of fell into place,” Nick explains. “The outcome beat my expectations, because I didn’t know if we were going to pull it off, to be honest, but we stuck at it and we took our time and it was worth it in the end because now we’re back on tour and I get to do what I love every night.”
I think Brutality Will Prevail will always be the odd band out no matter what lineup you chuck us on.
A standout moment on ‘In Dark Places’ can be found on ‘Into the Gloom’, a short piece that briefly diverts listeners from the the beating and meanders through waves of gothic psychedelia. It’s a track that Nick is particularly proud of. “That song came about when I was listening to a lot of 80’s post-punk like Joy Division and I wanted to try something a bit stranger in that vein. That was the song I kind of kept to myself when me and Marc were writing. I always like to put a standout song on the album, then let people decide for themselves what they think of it.”
BWP have an exciting year of shows promoting ‘In Dark Places’ ahead of them, and with a sludgier sound, it’s worth wondering if performances at Damnation Festival and tours with more extreme bands might be appropriate for them now. “We’ve never been like ‘We can’t tour with that band because they don’t sound like us,’” Nick says, regarding the prospect of gaining new touring buddies. “I think Brutality Will Prevail will always be the odd band out no matter what lineup you chuck us on. We’ve toured with hip hop bands, and emo bands, but a big part of touring is meeting new people.”
”So we’d tour with anyone, as long as it’s a good tour and we’d have a good time, it works for us. I think there’s a lot of bands who hold back from doing that because they don’t want to be classed as the band who’s selling out, because as soon as you start doing a big tour that’s what people start to accuse you of.”
But BWP refuse to let traditionalists’ accusations and demands cause their progression as a band to stagnate. After a number of inactive years, they’ve got some lost time to make up for and ‘In Dark Places’ is the record they’ll use to decimate venues wherever they go. “We’ll always get those kids who complain, but if you play the band by what everyone else wanted, you really shouldn’t do the band because you’re just faking it, aren’t you?”
‘In Dark Places’ by Brutality Will Prevail is released on 24th March on Holy Roar Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)