Released: 2016, Hammerheart Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
If you were expecting some sort of novelty act – a la the heinous Butcher Babies - from Dutch all-female death metallers Sisters Of Suffocation, prepare to have yourself torn a new one. The quartet seem to have taken “Fuck It” ethos of their song of the same name to heart and have delivered a bruiser of an EP with Brutal Queen, which was self-released last spring and is now getting a proper release from Hammerheart.
There is nothing light, safe or dainty – nor licentious - here. Brutal Queen is all-business death metal with the sort of balls and, well, brutality one expects from that sort of thing. It gets right down to it with the slashing title track and keeps raging throughout its five tracks.
Els Prins’ rabid growl is especially fearsome, getting down and dirty enough to sound more than a bit like Cannibal Corpse's George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – especially when things are at their gnarliest, as on “Skinless Flesh” or “Host of A Dead Fetus.” The band back her with an aptly ferocious accompaniment that offers brisk, Swe-deathy riffs, occasional black metal forays, plenty of hooky chug and enough changes of tone and tempo to keep things interesting.
The title track and “Skinless Flesh” are straight-forward death metal, with an At The Gates-like gallop and some nifty riffing from Simone van Straten. “Tales of a Martyr” takes a black metal turn mixing in tremolo guitar, blast beats and grim atmospherics, whereas “Fuck It” is a bit more streamlined and catchy – in a manner of speaking - at times echoing Arch Enemy, especially when Prins’ vocals grow shriekier. “Fetus” punctuates its doomy lumber with frantic bursts powered by Amber de Buijzer's rivet-gun drums and closes the EP out with a flourish.
Brutal Queen is by no means a revolutionary work. But it is solid, ably crafted death metal played with real zeal. It shows Sisters Of Suffocation are not only legit, but a band that would seem capable of bigger, better and badder as they get out and put some touring miles behind them.