One of my friends, a classicist and lover of classical music, has a few favorite metal bands he’s never heard. It’s not the music that makes him love Necrophagist or Abominable Putridity; it’s just the absurdity of their names, the contortions of language that must occur for brutality to surge forth. Unfathomable Ruination is a band he can get behind. And well he should, because it would be foolish to try to get ahead of them. Since their 2012 release of Misshapen Congenital Entropy, I’ve been keeping an ear out for the group’s masterful riffcraft, classy songwriting, and cromulitudinously embiggenified lyrical constructions. Taking pointers from Suffocation, Death, Origin and Ulcerate, the band’s sound is unfuckwithable as they come, built from the basics of death metal; guttural howls, blast beats, and an almighty storm of riffs.
Everywhere you turn, Finitude has a horn-throwing, tongue-stuck-out, smash-your-face in riff. The groove on single “Nihilistic Theorem” is more like a canyon – and it’s been raining uphill. It’s where kickass bassist Frederico Benini takes charge, delivering a set of sporadic solos before taking the melodic lead and driving the flash flood of brutality out into the comparatively calm intro of “Neutralizer.” The band end the song on that intro riff as well, because they know damn well when they hit gold. The opening and closing theme of “Neutralizer” sound like Human– era Death but meaner, and it’s an instant classic. This is the kind of song you’d expect from a band that covered “Vacant Planets” at the end of their spine-crushing debut, but the execution is just miles ahead of your imagination. Riff of the fucking year, right there.
Those songs are from the dreaded mid-album stretch, which strangely enough might be Finitude‘s strongest section. But that in no way implies that the rest of the album doesn’t stack up. From “Pestillential Affinity” to “Pervasive Despoilment” the riff flood just doesn’t dry whatsoever and there’s nary a moment of filler – the one breakdown feels like just a hint of Suffocation worship. Even the expansive eight-minute closer is just lousy with slow, twisting grooves and little melodic spasms, though its relatively linear structure could do with slightly more recall.
There is a downside to Finitude, and it’s a tough one to stomach. You see, I have about half a dozen reviews for bands that we actually got promo from and some of these are, shockingly, pretty good albums. The sad truth is, they’re just going to have to wait their goddamn turn while I listen to Finitude more or less continuously. Unfathomable Ruination hit dead center: this is what technicality and brutality are meant to create. The band don’t sidestep the massive pitfalls of the genre but cruise over them, seemingly unaware of their very existence.
And the icing on the cake? Doug Anderson’s snare. The guy is an incredible drummer, but even more remarkable is how well his kit fits into the mix. The snare is tight and aggressive but not overbearing, the kick drum sounds like a big, low, powerful kick drum, and his toms, which feature heavily in his fills pack one hell of a wallop. Honestly with a snare that sounds that good, I’m surprised he lets his stick touch anything else, but his performance here is extremely varied and matches the versatility of the band completely. The string trio of Herrera, Piazza, and Benini sound very comfortable playing off of each other, and together create an immense but not overbearing sound. This isn’t a densely contrapuntal Gorguts record, but when solos and leads break through the blasting, it’s easy to see why the band felt like one guitarist wasn’t enough. Yet I do miss how present the bass was on Misshapen Congenital Entropy.
That being said, there’s precious little I can find fault with on Finitude. The songs and riffs are even better than on the last album, the overall sound is a bit more natural, and despite the low DR I’ve been listening to the album on repeat since the first spin. Unfathomable Ruination are about as good as brutal death gets; they capture a classic death metal feel without sounding retro because they just write fucking death metal songs made of fucking death metal riffs. Finitude is the best release in the genre since Omnipresent, and might overtake even Origin‘s recent high water mark – an extreme claim, I know. But every once in a while, a talented band comes along that works hard and learns from the best. And in time, they are destined to join them.