GENERATION - Brutal Reality
Industrial Strength Metal. Built To Last.
One of the many attributes of the Limited Run Vinyl series so far has been the diversity of the titles which have been released. And one of the joys of reviewing these titles has been that it gives us the chance to not only revisit these vital contributions to the music scene, but also has enabled us to experience the music in a new light. Not only are we now able to enjoy these songs on the vinyl format, but more importantly, we are now able to listen to them within the context of the current world situation. As we know, COVID-19 (I keep wondering who will be the first metal band to write a song about this) has hit the human race with unrelenting ferocity, and the world in which we live has changed forever as a result. I keep thinking about all the prophetic metal music I’ve listened to for decades – all the warnings right there within our favorite music. Listening to an album like this one – Brutal Reality – in 2020 is an entirely different experience than it was in 1993 when it was originally released on Wonderland/Word and Metal Blade Records (1994). Its right there in the name, folks – Brutal. Reality. We are living it.
“Everything I once thought important, has crumbled into nothing, taking me with it” – “Hunger”
In 1993, there was quite a lot of change going on in the metal world. As grunge came to the forefront of what was more “popular” and traditional heavy metal moved into the underground scene, all kinds of metal hybrids were appearing as many experienced artists were looking for ways to stay relevant and many budding artists were looking for a “breakthrough” style or sound. The metal industrial revolution was one such movement which spawned the likes of Ministry, NIN and Prong on the secular side, and Mortal, Under Midnight, Chatterbox, Circle Of Dust/Brainchild and Generation on the Christian side. The article depicted below from Heaven’s Metal #41 nicely summarizes the scene circa 1993, and the article similarly introduced us to the band Generation.
And here is my original review (never previously published) of Brutal Reality:
“Produced by Caesar Kalinowski and friends, this experimental and highly industrial mix of songs is very original. Industrial music is a bit trying on the patience of even the heartiest and most open-minded metal maniac but the heavy use of guitars here gives this an interesting twist. Trouble guitarist Bruce Franklin guests here, but I am not sure to what extent he is playing on each song. Nevertheless, the big crunchy guitar loops here sound great and there is even a semblance of a solo in track 6. The opening track “Alive” is pretty happening and along with the instrumental track “Revolutionism” these songs could easily be used in any dance club that favors heavier styles of music. “Nothing to Give” is really the best vocal piece with the clearest message, but “Still You Died” is another great song, even though the underlying grating machine noise in the beginning will make you cringe. Interestingly, there is a fair amount of diversity here from song to song which keeps this disc moving in the right direction. While I find that most of this genre of music is too repetitive and annoying, these guys have created something worth listening to for the duration of the disc. Along with Brainchild’s Mindwarp, this is a worthy entry level disc for metal heads looking to expand into the industrial genre.”
Without a doubt, the music of Generation was cutting edge at the time. It was abrasive, yet embraceable because it retained some of the familiar elements of traditional metal. And even though Caesar Kalinowski’s prediction (see the article above) didn’t exactly pan out and most metal never completely morphed into an electronic/steel amalgamation, remnants of the industrial era do remain in much of the modern/contemporary metal world in one way, shape or form.
However, what did make this release stand out was the way the absolute truth was presented within the context of that metal/electronic revolution. Unlike their contemporaries, Generation’s lyrics clearly defended the sovereign nature of God as Creator (“Believe In Miracles”), they recognized the duplicitous human struggle to “live in the flesh” (“I Live In Flesh”) and our fallen/depraved nature (“Nothing To Give”). Most importantly, they acknowledged God’s love for us despite all these failings and His willingness to take the punishment for us/forgive us/redeem us (“RM. 101,” “Still You Died” and “Hunger”).
“I cannot feel, I cannot see, I cannot live. I must remember, I have nothing to give.” – “Nothing To Give”
Girder did an exceptional job with the design and presentation. The cover – probably one of the most disturbing and enigmatic covers ever – is presented in a matte black texture (in stark contrast to the high gloss black of Angelica’s jacket). The rear of the jacket features simplicity, clean lines and easily readable text (see below). And the jacket weight itself is as hefty as the vinyl slab (180gm) that it houses. Furthermore, I love that the guys have enlarged these jackets enough so that the record/insert can easily fit within its confines. The 2-sided insert is similarly thicker stock paper – lyrics and credits on the back and the cool artwork (pictured above) on the front. Consequently, the insert could easily double as a 12x12 poster. The disc itself is stark black (no wash marks) and is housed in one of the black poly-lined sleeves. Keep in mind that Brutal Reality is actually part of the first generation of LRV products (2019) and was originally supposed to have the “random color” treatment, but label head Greg Hays pulled the plug on that idea and opted for the black treatment after the initial LRV vinyl all started to look the same. (See my further discussions on this topic in my review of Siloam – Sweet Destiny HERE).
I had strongly suspected that these guitar heavy songs would sound amazing given the Rob Colwell vinyl remastering treatment because it would allow those deeper frequencies from the guitar and drums to escape the digital confines of the original recording. Much of the industrial music is so abrasive – largely by design – but that over treble-ized soundscape makes listener’s fatigue come on all too quickly. Brutal Reality was always a more balanced entry within the genre even in its original form, but in vinyl format this is even more apparent. Not only can you hear the bass now, you can feel it as well! Most fans will appreciate, also, that “Psalm 69” (originally hidden on the 69th track of the CD) is now easily accessible.
Brutal Reality is still relevant all these years later. This vinyl recording spins as testimony to the power and innovation within the music, and the words are words our hurting world – that we as believers – still needs to hear.
Limited to only 100 units and is still available at Girdermusic.com
“Believe in miracles and worship the Creator (not creation)”