Brutal Truth
"December 10, 2009"

Brutal Truth - December 10, 2009

First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA, USA

It's a few minutes before Brutal Truth take the stage, and I can't help but think: the kids in the audience have no idea what's about to happen to them. It's a good bet a large chunk of the audience was there to see headliner Municipal Waste, one of today's more popular punk/thrash crossover acts. Known as a party band, Municipal Waste's music, especially in a live setting, encourage listeners to have a good fun headbanging time. Brutal Truth's music encourages no such frivolity. It is meant to repeatedly sodomize the ear canals and, improbably, leave you asking for more.

The band steps up, and in moments the carnage would indeed envelop the onlookers. But not before frontman Kevin Sharpe drops this little nugget: "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall/Humpty Dumpty had a great fall/All of the king's horses and all the king's men/Couldn't put this Cheeto together again." Immediately after this presaging a later performance of "Humpty Finance," the band ripped into "Sugar Daddy," and you better believe shit was on. The crowd immediately divided into two groups: those standing dumbfounded and those raging like their lives depended on it, especially the brave ones who opened up the nasty pits lorded over by the beefy gentlemen in the center.

For upwards of an hour, the relentless grind machine chewed up the audience whether they liked it or not. Presiding over the chaos was Sharpe, alternately acting like a man possessed by demons or in the throes of a grand mal seizure. Amongst his antics for the evening were chomping on the microphone, building a special relationship with the kids in the front row, and kindly throwing random shoes into the crowd. Guitarist Erik Burke looked deep in thought, concentrating on nailing the complicated guitar gut n' slash, while the incomparably tall Danny Lilker was the epitome of cool, his coiled mop bobbing rhythmically. And if anyone hoped Rich Hoak would bring the contorted expressions while drumming his brains out, they would not be disappointed. Seriously, the dude has the best game faces this side of Dave Mustaine.

Now, this being a grind show, Brutal Truth played something like 20 songs. Some highlights were "Godplayer," the title track from "Evolution Through Revolution," the slow rolling punishment of "Time," and "Dementia." Oh, and "Branded." Twice in a row. All five seconds of it. For most of the crowd, it probably didn't matter; they only saw the songs bleeding together into an indistinguishable wall of noise. But for those who knew what the hell was going on, Brutal Truth proved that music doesn't have to be fun to be good.