Age of Ruin
The Tides of Tragedy

Littered with metalcore clichés in the form of calligraphy album title and forlorn song titles, my expectations weren’t to high for this album ,especially considering the rather average effort that preceded it, the death metal tinged metalcore musings of Black Sands of the Hourglass. However, with a change in label (from Tribunal to Eulogy) and the addition of former Samadhi screamer Ben Swan, Age of Ruin, while not quite on the level of the genres more commercialized big boys (Killswitch, Unearth) have developed into a solid outfit worthy of fans attention and a more focused melodic evolution of their harmonies that gives them a similar rending edge akin to Misery Signals’ recent offering, just without the polish.

Age of Ruin have clearly developed a keen sense of Gothenburg dual harmonies that they use to full effect on almost every song without fear, but they also have an extended use of instrumentals to enforce the emotional side of their music. With bookend acoustic track s “Dawn” and the close out of “Portrait of Solemn Seas” as well as the mesmerizing tribal interlude of “Serengeti”, Age Of Ruin seem ready to wear their heart of their sleeve musically without stepping to far into emo territory. Swan delivers the expected ‘loss, tragedy and sky is falling in the fall’ type lyrics with usual eyes to the sky gusto, but his occasional clean voice isn’t really his forte, but guitarists Daniel Fleming and Brian Kerley are pretty much the centerpieces of Age of Ruin’s sound anyway. Most of the riffs and solos are spiraling harmonies that climax with appropriate flourishes (much like Misery Signals), that beg for air guitar play.

The predictable breakdowns are not Age of Ruin’s strongpoint as they will never really crush like Remembering Never or Dead to Fall and they are hindered by a slightly flat production, especially on the bass and drums. However, the 2 guitars are clear and slice with impressive hooks that are as good as anything by Shai Hulud or Poison the Well’s early work. The naturally tragic song titles like “No Kiss Cuts as Deep”, “Bluest Eyes in Blackest Hearts”, “Glowing Embers”, are culled from the ‘Tribunal/Eulogy song title making machine of heartache’, but once you are past the teen angst lyrics, the music alone is rather impressive. The early blast beat of “No Kiss Cuts as Deep” is sapped by the production, but is more than redeemed by the fantastic multi layered vocals and solos of the songs epic climax.

As a whole, each song is very entertaining, chock full of familiar but finely played dual melodies that many fans may have tired of, but continue to amuse me. Only the clean chorus of “Diaries of the Dead” brought a slight grimace to my face, but as with the whole album, the twin guitars and its brief acoustic interlude more than make up for it, and again it closes with a brilliant culmination of rending soloing. If Anything Age of Ruin most certainly can close out a song with major skill, as “Yours to Bury” and the string violin enhanced “Portrait of Solemn Seas” are deeply entrancing. I’d actually be so bold as to say you’d be hard pressed to find soloing this evocative this side of The Opposites of December, The Rain in Endless Fall or even , Skydancer .

That’s not to say this album is close to being mentioned in the same breath, but at times the guitar work is breathtaking if you can see your way past the bands expected metalcore trappings. Age of Ruin are certainly ready to step from the swarming mass of mediocre to decent acts in the genre, and with a top notch production could nudge there way into the genres upper echelon, but is there really room for them?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 12th, 2005

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