Written By: Lokasenna

Hailing from Who-the-hell-knows-where, USA, the generically named Ruin originally formed in 1991, only to have its membership swallowed by time in the slammer and/or sanitarium. Reformed in 2015, they’ve sluiced out a swampy sort of old-school death metal their label promises will be reminiscent of early Abhorrence and Bolt Thrower. Drown in Blood, their first full-length, follows on the heels of a 2015 demo, but, as you may have ascertained, information on this band is otherwise rather scant. As a consequence, I enter into this somewhat blindly, led only by my general preference for less primordial death metal. Will this band find a new fan in spite of this? Is the label pulling comparisons out of their ass?

After what I assume to be a Z grade horror movie sample, opening track “Crawling Through the Vomit” kicks things into gear with some nice riff-work and an energetic solo before the unnamed vocalist gurgles and growls away. There’s not a lot of variety here, folks – this is brusque, primeval death metal all right. Much of the album opts for slow builds, but where the tempo does pick up, things tend to get oddly bouncy, yet it manages to work most of the time. “Torture is Heaven” is a good showcase of this rhythmic variety, as are “Rancid Death,” “Spread Plague Hell,” and title track “Drown in Blood.” The only real structural problem is a possible over-fondness for the slower segments, but this is a very subjective issue, even in this context. If nothing else, the band has very good instincts for juggling rhythms and tempos, with very little of the instrument work overstaying its welcome.

Speaking of things overstaying their welcome, is anyone else tired of death metal sampling horror movies? Hephaestus’s club foot, these meatheads overdo it here. A full six tracks open with one, and the otherwise excellent “Spread Plague Hell” opens with a bafflingly out of place choral segment. The album even closes with a medley of cheesy samples of what sounds to be people being tortured. While a decent idea for this subgenre, it wears thin after a minute or so and feels like padding, given the other samples and the relatively brisk runtime. This isn’t hip hop, guys; knock it off with the sampling. That’s not the only problem, although it’s certainly the largest. In general, the album needs more variety of song length. The only two tracks that don’t clock in around 4 minutes, “Rancid Death” and “Drown in Blood,” feel padded by samples and/or boring instrumental filler. “Drown” also has a small problem with segments of riffing sounding…out of place. The riff itself is excellent, but sounds for all the world like Deathspell Omega wound up on the wrong continent, which is jarring, to say the least.

The swampy vocals work well with the overall sound and structure of each song, but never really stand out as anything other than effective. Conversely, both “Crawling” and “Rancid Death” feature blistering solos that very strongly remind of Abhorrence‘s first demo, while the drumming varies from workmanlike to excellent, particularly standing out on “Sewer.” But what of the riffs? Here’s where things get particularly hit-and-miss, as long stretches of the album leave me cold, especially “Nightmares in a Void.” Despite this, these death-mongers are capable of dredging up some excellent riff-work for the more energetic segments, especially on penultimate track and album standout “Spread Plague Hell.” My gut tells me this is my own tastes talking, however, and if you like your death metal with a slab of doom on the side, perhaps the riffage will better suit you. The production is very marshy, as expected, and shapes the sound of the album appropriately, but it’s undeniably potato-like. If you have less tolerance for low-fi productions, giving this a pass is likely for the best.

In spite of the album’s flaws and the band’s terribly obnoxious attempt to be “mysterious,” I find myself liking Drown in Blood much more than not. It’s perfectly serviceable old-school death metal, and while I doubt I’ll revisit more than a couple songs in the future, the band has potential. Group cohesion, so often an issue with bands early in their careers, is perfunctory at worst, but they have a good ear for riffage at least part of the time, so I wish them luck in the future as they refine their sound.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Memento Mori Records
Websites: ruindeath.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: April 24th, 2017

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  • Drew Music

    Solid review of a slightly less than solid album. What’s the deal with the written by/posted by bit?

    • Probationary writer’s first review for AMG.

      • Drew Music

        Well again, a solid review in my book, plus it can’t hurt to have some new blood in the mix every so often. I enjoyed the overall style and tone of this, I’ll be looking forward to more Lokasenna reviews on the horizon.
        How frequently do you people abduct new writers anyway, and what kind of gauntlet must they endure their way through in order to resurface as an Angry Metal Scribe?

        • Grymm

          It usually revolves metalcore and tears.

          Lots and lots of tears.

          • The Unicorn

            And sandpaper, superglue and salt! Lots and lots of salt!

          • Drew Music

            I’m more bothered by metalcore than tears. I know there’s plenty to dislike and more than a source or two of stress and strife that comes with the dark territory of reviewing, but I beyond envy you people for doing what you do, I’d love to be in your collective glorious shoes/boots/hooves and would be more than happy to embarass my way into either this entity or something similar, though none of AMG caliber currently exist.

        • Lokasenna

          I’m glad you liked it!

  • Bearded_Relic

    Can’t say I like the production or the mix very much here. And I completely agree about the redundancy of samples. I prefer it when bands use their music to paint atmosphere.

    • Reese Burns

      I typically agree, though I’m a sucker for black metal bands sampling forest sounds.

  • Thatguy

    I wish I’d never mentioned masks.

    Very good review. Your newbie shows promise.

    • Lokasenna

      Thank you!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Greetings, Lokasenna!

    • Lokasenna

      Likewise!

  • herrschobel

    hmmm…good review…the band sounds like they recorded this in my toilet…or maybe it´s my headphones that fell in that toilet .. i don’t know…

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    What’s a Lokasenna?

  • Dr. Wvrm

    Welcome to the party bud, great start.

    • Lokasenna

      Thanks, doc!

  • Zach Ward

    I honestly dislike most audio samples within any form of music. They feel very out of place. Horror samples just seem to be the most common. Good review sunny.

  • Reese Burns

    If you want great death metal, just wait till Wrong One to Fuck With comes out. Dying Fetus never disappoint.

  • Hey guys, next time if you encounter some long-unused equipment in the corner/basement/storehouse of the studio, and decide to record on that, please don’t forget to take the blankets OFF the cabs and mics.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    I get they’re trying to emulate the rotten early Finnish death metal sound, but it sounds far too artificial to sound authentic.

    Music is not too bad.