Death metal is not a subtle art. Brutal death metal doubly so. Brutal, technical… well you get the point. Unfathomable Ruination exemplify this dearth of subtlety in name but belie it in their music. Their sophomore effort, Finitude, stands as one of the decade’s most punishing yet memorable death metal albums, punctuating each of its songs with a constricting riff or winding lead that seared it instantly into the mind. A great deal of the album’s success came from the band’s shrewd dispensation of show-stoppers, always releasing just enough brilliance to keep the listener wanting more. Apparently unwilling to rest on their laurels, Enraged and Unbound lives up to its predecessor’s unpredictable brutality, adding more variety to the band’s compositions without diluting their nastiness.
Unfathomable Ruination are at their best when ricocheting between techniques. The band give Katalepsy a run for their money with the squeal-dominated backbone riff of “Defy the Architect,” making digressions into choppier territory where guitarists Daniel Herrera and Ross Piazza deftly switch between chugging, pinch harmonics, and tremolo picking. The two hold listeners by the stapes and threaten clinical damage when they suddenly twist and pull in different directions, as in the harmonized lick a minute before the end of “Defy the Architect.” Enraged and Unbound’s writing defies formula on every scale; Doug Anderson’s drumming snaps between complex grooves and gravity blasts in concert with the jackknifing riffs, and the band still refuse simple song structures. Though there’s a huge sonic gap between Unfathomable Ruination and Defeated Sanity, the moment-to moment constituents of their music is the same; constant flux and relentless technicality are the rule, but the band move as a unit, and even solos feel organic and co-produced.
This is, of course, exactly what you’d expect as a follow up to Finitude. But Enraged builds on the band’s sound in subtle but impressive ways. The performances here feel even more virtuosic, with the details of riffs and drum patterns constantly shifting. Moments of “A Prophetic Compulsion” sound like Omnihility’s busy guitars under the rhythmic guidance of Jamie St Merat (Ulcerate). The strength of Unfathomable Ruination’s best songs is in constantly hitting you with licks that you haven’t heard before. Plenty of bands know all the tech death drum fills and sweep patterns and use them all the time. Hell, some of the records they make with those tricks as a backbone are really good. Unfathomable Ruination know all of the tech-death catchphrases too, but categorically avoid them. Yet the band still find time to shake up their sound, like with the raspy shrieks and Cattle Decapitation breakdown in “Codebreaker.”
Despite the growth, Enraged and Unbound doesn’t quite perform at the level of its predecessor. It’s in part simply because the lightning-in a bottle riffs aren’t always there; whereas “Thy Venomous Coils” or “Neutralizer” are stuck in my head to this day, I don’t see Enraged’s highlights haunting me for another three years. Still, these songs are completely absorbing when you’re in them, and looking across the album’s length, there’s no track I would cut. I would, given the chance, turn up the bass. Like Finitude, this is a guitar-driven album, leaving little space for new bassist Jake Law, stepping in after long-time member Frederico Benini’s departure. Still Enraged and Unbound sounds great and has an edge over its predecessor in listenability due to a less punishing master and runtime.
There’s a lot to love about this album – the wren-like rattle of Herrera & Ross’s harmonized tremolo picking; the way the band seem swallowed by the ending of “Protoplasmic Imprisonment;” the career-topping artwork from Eliran Kantor. Enraged and Unbound proves Unfathomable Ruination aren’t just a flash in the pan but a band at the top of technical and brutal death metal with a unique vision for the art form. If the band can maintain the quality of Finitude and Enraged and Unbound into the future, they’ll no doubt be one of the legends of this epoch of death metal history.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 2116 kbps wav
Label: Willowtip Records
Websites: unfathomableruination.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/unfathomableruination
Releases Worldwide: November 22nd, 2019