Greetings fellow cow tippers! Let’s have a look at Ruinous, shall we? Ruinous is the latest project from Alex Bouks, and that should already tell you something; the bands this man has been associated with are nothing short of legendary. He headed Goreaphobia, played with Incantation, Master, and Funebrarum, and recently joined Immolation. That’s one hell of a résumé. Not to take anything away from Ruinous’ other two members though; drummer Shawn Eldridge pounded away in the mighty Disma, and both he and guitarist/vocalist Matt Medeiros were also in Funebrarum. So let’s just say that Ruinous’ members have certainly proven themselves in the past. The fact that Dark Descent Records released “Graves of Ceaseless Death” should also tell you something. Hands down one of the best purveyors of death metal this side of the 90s, the consistent quality in their releases makes almost any album on the label a blind buy; at worst, you’ll get a solid album.
Ruinous’ style of death metal is not a dramatic departure from the bands the three amigos have been part of, but the execution certainly sets it apart. I mean, for starters, holy shit that bass. Definitely not lost in the shuffle. It’s constantly rumbling audibly in the din, giving everything a tremendous sense of urgency. Just check out the bass playing solo alongside the drums in the opening to “Transfixed on the Gate.”
Now that’s what the fuck I’m talking about.
Adding to that sense of urgency is the Medeiros’ frantic vocals; he has an awesome range, and the savage delivery on faster songs like “Ravenous Eternal” is just manic. While Ruinous is certainly at home in faster songs, they don’t miss a step when they slow down on songs such as “Procession of Ceaseless Sorrows” that are full of heavy, cavernous passages. The 11-minute monster “Through Stygian Catacombs” is the centerpiece of the album and features the best of both, building on doomy, very American squealing riffs interspersed with sections of ripping speed.
It’d be criminal for me not to call attention to the artwork. It’s simple at first glance, but the longer you look at it, the more reveals itself. The faces, structures and tower camouflaged in the miasma; the silhouettes of souls crawling up the strands of the seated figure’s cowl; the eyes looking back at you from between the cloak’s folds and the tangled branches. The attention to detail is superb. Go on, scroll back up and a have a look. There you go.
Folks, what we have here is American death metal played with rollicking enthusiasm. You’ll hear echoes of the members’ other bands in here, but make no mistake: Ruinous is its own band and “Graves of Ceaseless Death” is its own experience. I hope this isn’t a one-and-done sort of project, because I’d love for a second album to invade my earholes in the near future.
You can find Voidhanger over on twitter talking about screaming, metal, and radioactive squirrels.