rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Unknown Nightmare
02. Harder Than Before
03. Burn The System
04. Reincarnation
05. Maze Of Suffering
06. Manufactured Insanity
07. Untopia

Measuring and comparing levels of heaviness in music is a largely pointless and entirely subjective activity. But sometimes the truth is plain for all to see. The visceral and indecently exciting sound of a giant, concrete block being dropped onto humanity's twitching skull, over and over again for all eternity, KRUELTY are one of the heaviest bands on the planet. Is it death metal? Is it beatdown hardcore? Is it some previously untapped strain of pre-apocalyptic urban deathcore? It really doesn't matter. The Tokyo crew's second full-length album, "Untopia", is one of those rare records that convinces within its first few seconds, through sheer, unadulterated and disgusting heaviness and huge, lumbering, steroidal riffs. Stripped down and feral like the best New York hardcore, but neck deep in the tripped-out, horrified squalor of underground extremity, these are songs to soundtrack collapsing buildings and the desolation that follows.

Even the obligatory haunting intro packs a weightier punch than most. KRUELTY clearly understand how unnervingly brutal their music is, and where it sits on the atmospheric spectrum, in some bilious (bitter)sweet spot between abject horror and soul-crushing reality. When opening track "Unknown Nightmare" does finally kick in, it's like some enormous pressure valve has been released, and all the pitch-black animosity that fuels this band's music is let loose. The guitarists have one of those synchronous, dynamic relationships going on, wherein riffs are presented as one huge block of sound, with only occasional deviations from the perpetual sledgehammering of everything in sight. Vocalist 02 (a.k.a Tatami) simply locks into the grooves, belching and screaming like some dystopian Corpsegrinder acolyte. Combine all that with a rhythm section that sounds determined to inflict as much damage as possible, and KRUELTY have all the tools needed to make their beatdowns bloodier and their bursts of speed, more thuggish and vitriolic.

But there is something else going on here too, etched between the lobotomized lines. Several moments of sluggish, downtempo menace, most notably on "Manufactured Insanity" and "Reincarnation" add a layer of stark, real-world desperation to otherwise blank-eyed and bellicose onslaughts. Even more startling, the closing title track dares to defer to a brief moment of oblique melody, before launching a BOLT THROWER-like swarm of three-note riffs that becomes uglier and more hateful as it drags its scabby knuckles toward a stuttering climax.

Outstripping the ferocity of KRUELTY's 2020 debut, "A Dying Truth", "Untopia" is obnoxiously heavy on every conceivable level. Prepare to be smashed to bits.

Author: Dom Lawson
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