Ukrainian death metal wizards, Brilliant Coldness, tag their music as academical death metal on Bandcamp, although that could be a translation issue. Yet it might also be an apt description of the music and the stultifying impact it has on the listener. After thirty minutes and with no end in sight for a further half-an-hour, you might lose the will to live.
These guys can play and have a wonderful ear for heavy groove metal riffs, but they have little appreciation for the structure and length of an album. Instead of creating a journey, Brilliant Coldness give us eleven identical tracks squeezing as many notes as possible into each composition. What about phasing the audio experience with interludes and exploring different tempos and dynamics?
In fairness, The Ultimate Dream… would achieve a high score if it ended at track seven. Opener, ‘The Ultimate Dream Pt.1’, is a banger of the highest calibre. They’re straight into the tech death groove from the first note with harsh guttural vocals and exquisite footwork from drummer, Dmitry Kim, whom some of you will know as Jinjer’s former drummer from their seminal 2016 album, King of Everything. The fact most Jinjer fans regard him as the third best drummer out of the five that have filled the stool over the years tells you a lot about the quality of the musicians they’ve had in their ranks since 2011. Let’s be clear: the drum work on this album is sensational. Listen to the aggression of the double-kick attack on ‘The Moment of Resistance’ – we’re talking Sean Reinert standard. The sixteenth notes in the guitar breakdown on ‘The Crown of Darkness’ need to be heard to be believed.
The bass guitar is another standout instrument in the separation of the mix. You can listen to the entirety of ‘Individual Hell’ for the bass alone. At times the violent slap of the down-tuned bottom string can sound like the noise a deflated football makes when you try to clear it with your laces. But, hey, this is extreme metal, and we’re not going to criticise a band for having no melody. We certainly cannot criticise the guitar work. Necrophagist and Obscura are clear influences, but so are Death and Pestilence. ‘The Top of the Perish’ is just like the current sound of Alluvial, with its tech death take on Pantera. Fans of the recent release from Danish metal sensations, Polars Collide, will love the reverse pitch bend in the opening riff.
The incorporation of Lamb of God-esque grooves into the technical framework keeps the first seven songs lively and engaging enough to warrant a nod of approval and an occasional sway of the shoulders. But even here the cracks start to show. Tracks three and four are already shredding through thirty-second solos before we even reach the two-minute mark. Indeed, the guitarists give us little variety outside their virtuoso metal chops apart from the spacey Opeth reset in ‘The Crown of Darkness’ and a brief jazz passage in closing track, ‘The Ultimate Dream Pt.2’. It starts to lose its impact once you’ve heard five songs that sound like an audition for a scholarship at the Berklee College of Music.
We say it many times at Scream Blast Repeat, but technical death metal is not suited to the longform experience, certainly not sixty-two minutes of relentless bludgeoning. The last four songs are unlistenable by the time you get to ‘Phantasm’ – not because they’re weak compositions but because they rely on dazzling musicianship and the same monotone level of aggression. Out of respect and fairness to the artist, this reviewer went back to the last four songs in isolation after streaming the ultimate one-hour metal album – The Blackening by Machine Head. Unfortunately, Brilliant Coldness’ complex metallic brutality still did nothing to change his mind. Put this record next to one of the lengthy masterpieces of the last twenty years, and its one-dimensional nature leaves it wanting.
This review should have been celebrating a new tech death classic, but the band’s inexplicable decision to extend it beyond endurance levels means you end up skipping four of the eleven songs. No record can achieve a high score with an inconvenience like this.
Release Date: 30/07/2021
Record Label: Dead Center Productions
Standout tracks: The Moment of Resistance, The Top of the Perish, The Symphony of the Running Away Life
Suggested Further Listening: Anakim – The Elysian Void (2021), Gorgatron – Pathogenic Automation (2020), Polars Collide – Grotesque (2021)