EP: The Woods Will End You
Release date: 6/3/2022
Reviewed by: John Wesley
Making a very strong first impression in the scene with their debut album “Worldwide Desolation” back in February of 2021, Brotality continues the Neo-thrash carnage with the sophomore effort “The Woods Will End You” released June 3rd through Rottweiler Records. The cheekiness of the band name should by no means deter metal lovers from giving these 3 south New York youngsters a fair listen. “The Woods Will End You” boasts of both noticeable musical development and a strong indication of amicable chemistry between the instruments and varying vocal styles. This album is both simultaneously a serious and a fun listen. With a basic 3-piece style writing style, the band embraces and showcases each instrument very well. Brotality consists of brothers Bryce and Reece Maopolski on guitar and bass, all the while handling the vocal duties, and John Harring keeping things in order on the drums. Reece handles the clean vocal duties and Bryce takes the lead on the harsh vocals.
In a world where the art of producing a full-length album is becoming a commodity, Brotality shows no fear in presenting us with an 11-track, nearly an hour long listening experience. As always, we’re gonna dive in track by track to dissect and uncover what’s really going on in the minds behind the wonderfully constructed and composed “The Woods WIll End You.” Buckle up, this album takes you on quite a journey.
Kicking off with the short but sweet opener, Wild, the album opens up brightly as Bryce leads the way with a crazy catchy and joyful guitar riff along with the pummeling bass and drums accompanying it. This is an intro track that only lasts a minute and 29 seconds and we all wish it lasted much longer. The bass mercilessly hacks on a high note for a few seconds leaving you guessing where the track is heading only to switch to track 2, Frost Empire. Paving some indestructible concrete with an utmost ferocious bass line, we are launched into utter oblivion with a moderately dissonant onslaught of sonic expression making a stark contrast to the innocent-sounding opening musical number. The section continues and builds a little more and we get our first taste of harsh vocal delivery. The only word I can muster up to accurately describe Bryce’s vocal delivery is “savage.” The next section of the song comes in with a dangerous groove riff supporting Reece’s commanding and characteristically “punk-style” clean vocals. The form then repeats itself and then the beat kicks up a few seconds past the 2-minute mark. This riff is illegally groovy and leaves the listener headbanging away liberally and happily. Lasting not even 30 seconds, we are thrown back to the main riff of the song and are carried through little variations of such to the end. I must note the really cool bass fill that signals the ending stretch of the song. I so appreciate the band’s commissioning of the bass guitar to lead many sections on this album.
With no sign of slowing down, track 3, Nosedive, burts through the gate swinging with a groovy and busy triplet riff plowing through the airwaves. At the 1:35 mark, the song gets elevated with a triumphant-sounding onslaught of riffage. I love this section of the song so much, especially all the cool bass parts featured here. Near the end of the repeat section, we get a tasty guitar solo with, yes, divebombs! The Bro-Boys are keeping this classic technique alive and I’m all for it. The chorus gets revisited, then we are handed a slight tempo change at 3:22 for a relentlessly heavy thrash-style breakdown. This has to be one of the heaviest moments on the album. After this, the track ends with a different kind of breakdown; something a little more on the “tech” side of things. If you recall the kind of breakdowns Extol created on their Synergy album, you’ll love this moment.
So after two short yet impactful songs we are thrown into another mood change at track 4, Midnight Fire, which acts as an intro to the next track. With the crackling sounds of a campfire, we are serenaded with a beautifully simple minor etude on an acoustic guitar. This becomes layered not too long after we become familiarized with the motif with soaring dual guitar leads and percussion. The acoustic comes back to dictate the riff that will launch into track 5 called Flesheater of the Forest. This mid-tempo, 6/8 rhythm-dominant section is incredibly satisfying coming out of the interlude that prepared it. When the main riff comes back at 1:35, there’s this cool bass chord struck on the down-beat of the measures which is incredibly cool. As a bass nerd myself, I had to point it out. Deal with it. We are graced with a tasteful guitar solo at 2:35 that sustains at its end and gives us a very unexpected section of the song. The tempo changes and the bass line signals a turn of the page. Afterwards, another thrashy breakdown comes by to entertain us for a little and then we are brought back to the original pacing of the song. As cool as this B section is, I did find it slightly disconnected and distracting. This is nothing too serious to change how great this song is at all.
I’m just gonna say it now. An Evil Presence is when this album starts to get real good. I mean…real good. The opening riff has this doomy, brooding characteristic that kinda sounds, well…evil I guess. This riff goes on for a bit and then supports a somewhat surprising yet welcoming vocal melody. The chorus melody of this song is absolutely brilliant. Reece’s voice in his high range is so addicting, sporting just enough grit to slice through the mix with sheer authority and captivity. A brief jam session goes seamlessly into a sludgy breakdown with Bryce’s growls in the spotlight. Then the chorus comes back. I could listen to this chorus all day. Soon after comes a ripping guitar solo that leads us into a big build up section only to bring us an unexpected twist. Instead of building to where the listener is expecting, the tempo changes and we get a callback variation of the main riff in the second track, Frost Empire (at least I feel like it reminds me of it). The song ends after that and without any delay we are met with a blast beat, feedback, a divebomb and crunching bass. All of this cacophony only lasts a few sections and we get tossed into a pleasant, slower triplet riff which lets us know we are entering Skull Rot. A notable section in this song starts at 1:43. There are some choir effects going on here serving us with a very captivating and haunting chord progression. Blast beats and guitar sweeping wonderfully impose on our auditory experience at the 3:02 mark for a moment and then we get a very dramatic, simple yet crushing ending similar to the writing style of the latter material of the band Death. The vocals here are very intense and we get some high and low harsh style doubling.
The soundscape changes drastically with our next interlude track, Sunseeker. This contrast happens pretty suddenly from the previous track as we are met with a very pleasant clean guitar riff sporting an innocent major mode for the first minute and 20 seconds. This break in the album explodes at this point to give us more triumphant, soaring guitar melodies on top of driving drums and bass. This new somewhat unpredictable mood change is not here to stay however as the next track Sludgehammer serves as arguably the album’s most moody and solemn sounding song. I’m gonna give some of my top 3 away right now and say this song is close to being my absolute favorite on this album. The best way to describe this song is take the non-aggressive, jammy version of Gojira and apply a The Sound of Perseverance era of Death inspired songwriting tricks. I am a massive fan of both of these formulas and when you put Reece’s fantastic clean vocals over the majority of this song, you simply cannot get much better. The section at 3:47 and 4:51 is absolutely brilliant. Pulling in the usage of a jarring borrowed chord reaffirms and colors the mood established with this song perfectly. It reminds me so much of Death’s songwriting in their later years and it’s so nice to get a little tribute for them, whether intentional or not. A heavier part of the song comes next with a guitar solo coming in blazin’ hot. At the end of this solo, a whammy bar squealie (it’s a word now) signals a completely devastating breakdown. The sludgehammer has arrived, boys and girls! What a monstrous riff! I will admit, this song is a great example of “I’m here for the breakdown” and since it’s the end of the song, that’s what you remember the most. Don’t let this cause you to forget the pristine musicality of the previous 6 minutes of the song. I consider this a 10/10 track; an absolute must-listen.
We’re coming to the last two songs of the album. With track 10, The Moon Below, we get a pounding yet groovy (thanks to the drum pattern) riff fading in dramatically which builds up the initial intensity of the wild ride that is this 11-minute beast. Easily my favorite riff on this entire album. The chord progression is a brilliant coupling of both the mysterious and the macho. The section starting at 2:45 is for all the prog lovers out there. The 3 different guitar parts that completely wrap the soundscape in pure progalicious beauty carry you on a glorious journey which all of a sudden comes to a halt at the 3:14 mark. Both tempo and key changes push this masterpiece forward into the unknown. The breakdown that leads this section features a hauntingly beautiful Reece vocal part that features a simple octave jump and a half step resolve. I honestly could loop this part for the rest of my life but there is still more unexpected greatness to come. Exiting this section, we are faced with pummeling brutal riffage with Bryce’s growls. Embedded in this section we get a “chorus” figure that weaves in and out with contrasting heavy riffing. At the 7:48 mark, John gets to show off his drum chops for a little bit with ambiguous chords not giving us any idea what to expect next. The final 3rd of the song starting at 8:15 confirms the destination of not only this song, but the entire album feels like it’s about to come to a significant, triumphant resolve. Operating on mostly the adventurous and satisfying mixolydian scale, we are thrown back to how the opening track, Wild, and the interlude before Sludgehammer, Sunseeker, made us feel. These moments are the sunlight peeping through the dark and gloomy forest we’ve been traveling through. This finale section makes you feel like you made it to the top of a grueling hike just in time to see the sunrise. Another 10/10 track for me. If Brotality only released these last 3 tracks as an EP, they would’ve done their due diligence easily. Speaking of the very last track…
Stylistically, we are thrown in for a surprise with Glow, the album closer. Continuing in the glory of the finale section of our album’s epic, Glow starts with the heaviest pop-punk riff you’ve ever heard. Reece’s singing already has a little bit of a punk flair so this section showcases his vocals the absolute best. He should strongly consider starting a pop-punk side-project. The song gives you the impression that this will be a “mood-reliever” from the mostly dark and sadistic sounding album that led up to this moment as the overall joy and brightness feels incredibly satisfying. I could not imagine a better ending to this glorious quest through the evil forest so to speak. The major highlight I want to point out about this song is the winner of “my favorite moment on the entire album.” For the first 2 and a half minutes we have a standard pop-punk song format but all of a sudden the tempo drops and we have the heaviest yet happiest breakdown ever recorded in human history. I cannot begin to tell you how elated this section made me upon my first listen. The tempo change is stupidly satisfactory and the rhythms that follow simply slap like no other. A really cool guitar solo layers on top about half way through. You really can’t ask for better. After that point, the song’s dynamic drops for a little bit to give us some reflective clean guitars that act as a call back to other moments on the record. At 3:54 the true final section of the album launches and ya know what? Words won’t do it justice. You just gotta listen for yourself!
The Woods Will End You is a fantastic release weaving both the brutal and the beautiful; the gruesome and the contemplative; the melodic and the dissonant. When it’s all said and done, my complaints are very minor and might be considered subjective. I found some of the musical transitions a little too sudden. My opinion, I can see the opening track developed into a full song so we don’t get a harsh mood change too soon but perhaps they meant it this way and that’s completely fine with me. Midnight Fire and Flesheater of the Forest could very well have been a single larger track, making it a truly progressive package deal. As pretty as Sunseeker is, I felt like it threw off the development that could have strung together easier between the moodier and more serious Skull Rot and Sludgehammer. The second half of the album completely overshadows the first half in my opinion. Aside from these nit-picky details, The Woods Will End You is dang near perfect and showcases the widespread talents of the savage 3-piece ensemble equally and perfectly. Great job Brotality! Be sure to follow these guys on social media and keep up with their extensive touring schedule. Rottweiler Records should be very proud to have this unrelenting force of nature on their roster.
Overall rating: 9/10
Top 3: An Evil Presence, Sludgehammer and The Moon Below
For fans of Mastadon, Metallica and Megadeth