Ruinas – Ikonoklasta Review

The world today is a frustrating place. You try to go on vacation and miss your flight because some idiot got into a fender bender and caused a traffic jam. You try to go out to eat and can’t find anywhere to park. You try to take a shit and are forced to wipe your ass with an old washcloth because every store within 100 miles is sold out of toilet paper. In times like these, nothing helps more than a pure blast of raw aggression, an aural rampage that obliterates any and all sense of frustration from your mind. I find deathgrind works particularly well in this regard, especially albums like Death Toll 80K’s incendiary and rifftastic Harsh Realities. Seeing Ruinas listed under the deathgrind tag, I hoped this newfound Spanish group would offer just what I was looking for during a time in my life that’s been more frustrating than usual. The band’s founder, Rober Bustabad, is certainly no newbie on the scene, with experience in underground death metal and grindcore bands like Machetazo, Ovakner, and Banished from Inferno. Yet while this Ikonoklasta debut definitely offers some pummeling goodness, there’s also a lot more to unpack here than I first expected.

But that comes later. Opener “Trepanación” kicks things off in a way that checks all the deathgrind boxes, blasting along with churning riffs and belligerent buzzy chords. With a repeated tremolo phrase holding the track together, the song almost reminds me of early Misery Index, while the vocalist delivers his gruff growls with an inflection that strongly recalls Brujeria. Later songs follow suit, with “Ciclón Tarántula” standing out with ricocheting notes that soon give way to stampeding chords. I’m faintly reminded of fellow Spaniards Looking for an Answer1 and if the whole album was comprised of songs like this, I wouldn’t be upset.

Yet almost immediately, Ikonoklasta reveals itself as far more than typical deathgrind. Coming right after the opener, the title track pulls a trick from the playbook of Wormrot’s Voices by incorporating brief passages of layered, emotional notes that somehow work despite not being something you’d typically hear in this style. Yet while Wormrot kept such experiments to a few chords, Ruinas spread their wings further. “Fauces De Saturno” is essentially a crust punk song, pounding along on galloping beats before breaking itself apart with a destructive ending and closing out with a sample of a music box. “Instinto Genozida” is even more peculiar, with its onslaught of D-beats peppered with plenty of gang shouts and rocking riffs that sound like a more aggressive version of early Kvelertak. Coupled with a delightfully wahhing guitar solo, it ends up being one of my favorite tracks here.

The variety doesn’t end there. “Vómito De Sangre” is a nice heap of death-sludge that soon accelerates into crust, while closer “Ad Vermibus Gloriam” eschews metal almost entirely by filling its five minutes with thrumming synthesizers straight out of an 80s John Carpenter score. Embellished with echoing guitar leads, it’s a terrific track, but the same can’t be said for the album as a whole. One of the problems with this much variety is that Ikonoklast becomes a bit stylistically disjointed. “Supercélula,” for instance, is a simple 28 second blast of aggression that feels entirely throwaway coming after the more developed “Fauces De Saturno.” Likewise, “El Tormento De Las Ratas” offers an awesome pounding buildup that sadly leads into nothing more than roughly ten seconds of rote blasting. Yet though the album has a bit of an uneven flow, its production fortunately fits the style perfectly, with a loud punchy sound that has just a hint of dinginess.2

While Ikonoklasta certainly has some shortcomings, it nonetheless stands as a wholly enjoyable album that’s far more interesting than the stock deathgrind I expected. That Ruinas aren’t afraid to experiment (and are able to do so successfully in a variety of styles) bodes extremely well for their future. Though a bit more cohesion would certainly help moving ahead, I still expect to be keeping an eye out for this project’s future material. For now, whatever society has got you pissed off about, I recommend Ikonoklasta as a terrific antidote, especially for those deathgrind fans who aren’t afraid to hear something that colors outside the lines.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Spikerot Records | Bandcamp
Releases Worldwide: March 20th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Whose 2017 swansong Dios Carne is absolutely worth checking out.
  2. Being mastered by Pig Destroyer’s Scott Hull probably didn’t hurt either.
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