As most dedicated metalheads are aware, a hell of a lot of great heavy music has emerged from Finland over the years. However, I can’t recall too many notable Finnish thrash bands, which was a strong factor in putting my hand up to review the sophomore album from Ruinside. Diving in blindly with a review assignment is generally not how I operate, but needless to say I was intrigued by the prospect of a raging Finnish thrash album in a scarce year for the classic genre. Well it turns out I misled myself, as instead of a dark and aggressive modern thrash album with typically gloomy Finnish overtones, I was treated to a much different sounding beast. First and foremost Ruinside don’t possess any characteristics that are distinctly identifiable as Finnish in any way. What we have on 10 Forms of Dominion is a lovingly retro time capsule of 80s inspired melodic thrash that has far more in common with American, particularly Bay Area thrash, than their homeland. Throw in some traditional heavy metal bombast and you have the basic blueprint of what Ruinside are all about.
Following a lame and cheesy intro, “The Sickness” kicks in, boasting a catchy chorus, solid riffs and hard-hitting drums. It’s a promising beginning that stands as one of the album’s more notable highlights. If only Ruinside wrote an album’s worth of songs containing the songwriting quality and addictive hooks of “The Sickness” and catchy gang vocal infused “Dethroned to be Thriven” we might have something far more substantial on our hands. Several songs contain just enough interesting elements to keep them afloat and rise above mediocrity, such as the twisting guitar melodies and chugging grooves of “In the Arms of Bitterness” and gritty street level thrash of “Corridors of Power.” Unfortunately the album is plagued by flat spots and bland songwriting that can’t quite be redeemed by the odd good song. While an overall lack of speed is another factor that holds the album back.
Toni Salminen’s clean melodic voice is the focal point of Ruinside’s lively offensive. His bombastic power metal-tinged vocals and snotty delivery lend the album a triumphant yet attitude smeared streak. He’s responsible for some rousing moments and soaring vocal hooks. Unfortunately the dude doesn’t seem to know when to shut the fuck up on several of the tunes, not allowing enough breathing room for the instrumental segments to shine. Nevertheless his performance features plenty of earworm hooks and melodies, occasionally fleshed out with decent songwriting. Individual performances are solid and dependable enough, but no-one aside from Salminen’s occasionally attention grabbing vocals, snatches the baton and takes control, reinforcing the unremarkable qualities of the album. Although drummer Timo Anttonen’s aggressive style deserves praise for giving the album much needed grit and steel.
There’s an enjoyable fist-pumping, old school simplicity to the unfashionable thrash Ruinside ply throughout 10 Forms of Dominion. I could definitely imagine pounding some brews and chucking this disc on in a drunken stupor and enjoying the hell out of it. With a clear head however, the album’s deficiencies are too numerous to ignore. Even taking into consideration the band’s feisty energy, the album begins to run out of steam and feels too long at forty four minutes, despite finishing strongly on dynamic closer “Cycle of Slavery.” Perhaps Ruinside need to spend more time crafting quality riffs and interesting song structures, to match the effort they seemingly put into the vocal patterns and choruses on the album. As it stands, memorable songs and top shelf riffs are in short supply, while the stripped back tinny production and disproportionate mix leaves a lot to be desired.
10 Forms of Dominion is harmlessly fun retro thrash that doesn’t push the envelope or rejuvenate the thrash genre in any way, shape or form. Ruinside mildly succeed in delivering authentic old school thrash anthems with just enough hooks to snag the interest of the most devoted thrash diehards.