ALBUM REVIEW: Shatter Brain – ‘Pitchfork Justice’

Words by Carly Gibbs

For a band that has only been around for a short two years, Shatter Brain, from Adelaide, have certainly racked up a ton of experience and have already gained themselves some seriously heavy credibility notches on their proverbial studded belts.  Touring across Australia, New Zealand, Japan and parts of Asia they’ve supported some of the biggest names in the heavy world, King Parrot, Carcass, Sepultura, Integrity, and with Black Rheno to support sludge Lords Eyehategod.  Right from the beginning they were able to align themselves with amazing talent, having Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust fame master their first 4 track demo.  Now, after the demo and a 12” split with Melbourne’s Blunt Shovel, they’ve released their debut album ‘Pitchfork Justice’

The first track Talk in Fear explodes out of the gate and punches you right in the face with rolling drums and a snarling ‘blueerrggh’ from vocalist Tom Santamaria.  It’s a belter of an opener, showcasing Tom’s maniacal vocal range that spans from deep, animalistic growls to high, blood curdling screams and a multitude of insanity in between.  It is the sound of organised chaos and quite frankly, I’m here for it.  The riffs delivered by Matt Disisto and Jack Hartley are punishing and again, have such variances across the track.  They run from fast and thrashy to thick and muddy sludge.  Mind you, this is all in one track which sounds like it could easily be too reckless and hectic but as I’ve mentioned, organised chaos, baby!  It works so, so well.  

Lorem Ipsum is definitely more solidified in the world of thrash.  Those that are into old-school thrash like Testament, Overkill, Sacred Reich or anyone in that vein, will dig this track.  Whilst not as fast as some, it keeps a solid pace throughout and doesn’t deviate as much as Talk in Fear.   There’s a nice little solo about 2 and a half minutes in which is well thought out, well placed and compliments the arrangement rather than feeling self-indulgent.  Lorem Ipsum (from my deep research with Professor Google) is a Latin derivative meaning ‘Pain itself’ or ‘suffering, pain or sorrow’ which is a title as comfortably at home on a metal album as I am in this old pair of tracky dacks that I’ve been wearing for the last week in isolation. 

Choosing Beggars serves as bit of a palate cleanser, if you will, as it brings the tempo down and slightly veers back into the sludge lane.  It, again, is a bit of a genre bender as it’s punctuated by gang vocals that are indicative of hardcore or deathcore and has a bounce to it not dissimilar to something you may hear on one of the slower cuts from ‘The Great Southern Trendkill’.

A vile and fetid syringe injects the energy back into the album in the form of Fencesitter.  Elements of melodic death can be heard in the guitars which reminds me a little of Blinded by Fear by At The Gates in parts.  This feels like a really cohesive track and one of my favourites so far. 

Noble Savagery’s chorus is full to the brim with gang vocals and has more of a Municipal Waste vibe going on.  Don’t let that fool you though, it’s a party but still a brutal party with  Tom’s vocals swinging like a monkey’s nuts through the jungle across the spectrum of his range. 

Silent Screams is a sludgy, doom infused track which has a guitar sound that is reminiscent of Pantera in Cemetary Gates in parts, with more melodic vocalsAbout two thirds of the way through Shatter Brain kick it up again and it takes a turn into blackened death territory and it destroys.  It feels eerie and visceral and even more sinister alongside the lighter parts. 

Life Ephemeral is exactly as its name would suggest at one minute and six seconds.  It’s a really nice little interlude but I can’t help but feel it’s out of place and not necessary here.  I’d be interested to know the reasoning behind why it was kept in this space in the final cut.   It seems to stop abruptly before the final track on ‘Pitchfork Justice’, Death Goes On, starts in a completely different way.  Death Goes On is the most melodic in terms of the vocals and moves back into the hardcore/thrash crossover that was heard throughout earlier in the record.  It’s the second shortest track and rounds off the album in a concise way. 

With a bludgeoning sound that is varied and incorporates elements of thrash, hardcore, classic heavy metal and a touch of death you can see how and why they can easily slot in with bands as musically diverse as Integrity and Carcass and also appease their respected rabid fans.  They have been likened to High on Fire, Power Trip and Black Breath and I don’t disagree.

Some might perceive ‘Pitchfork Justice’ as erratic and not as cohesive as it could be, but the band ain’t called Shatter Brain for nothing and I enjoyed the variance and change up throughout.  It keeps it interesting and it gives them a point of difference from a lot of  other ‘paint by numbers’ bands.  There is a wide bag of tricks to draw from and whether they continue to meld genres like this or if they simplify it and focus on something a little more aligned, Shatter Brain have talent in spades and will no doubt continue to crush it.  I can’t wait to see what they are like in the live setting once all of this Corona madness is over. 

‘Pitchfork Justice’ is out now via Wormholedeath/Aural Music
You can Purchase it HERE and HERE

And whilst you are at it, listen to their tasty cover of Mastodons ‘Blood and Thunder’ on Spotify HERE

Shatter Brain are:
Tom Santamaria – Vocals
Matt Disisto – Guitar
Jack Hartley – Guitar
Pat Callaghan – Bass
Ryan Quarrington – Drums


With thanks to Black Roos

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