Ruins
Place of No Pity

Place of no Pity is the fourth full-length album from Ruins, the Australian black metal crew featuring drumming extraordinaire Dave Haley (Psycroptic) in their ranks.  Although this is my first extended experience with the band, by all accounts it appears to follow-through with a similar formula to previous releases.  The band play a steroid-fuelled black/death hybrid drawing influence from the classic sounds of Celtic Frost, latter-era Satyricon and perhaps most notably, the ragged sounds of Goatwhore.   Steering clear of the rawer aspects of the black metal genre, Ruins deploy a crystal clear, beefy production job, courtesy of talented producer Joe Haley (Psycroptic/live member of Ruins).  Black metal purists may baulk at the decidedly polished engineering but it’s hard to deny the sonic heft on display.  The bass drums sound particularly powerful and Haley’s performance is a clear cut highlight amongst the otherwise straight-forward musicianship.

Clearly Ruins’ objective is to play simplistic riff-based black metal with some hefty death metal undertones.  However, while the riffs are catchy and serviceable enough, the band’s no frills motto does hinder the potential of the material.  It may seem harsh to criticize a band fulfilling their vision, but they seem to sell themselves a little short.  A sharper, more technical approach to the guitar work would likely elevate the material to a higher plane.    That said there is plenty to dig on this otherwise accomplished album and the song-writing is addictively catchy and varied.  The nine lengthy tracks occupy nearly an hour’s worth of blackened mayhem, and Ruins are skilled enough to pull off the length without the material becoming stale or repetitive.

Although there are distinct similarities shared with Goatwhore’s grizzled sound, Ruins differ by creating a moodier atmosphere, rather than employing the dirtier, Southern swagger favoured by the NOLA heavyweights.    Ruins’ knack for song-craft counteracts their straight-forward leanings, and the unconventional song-writing inflections take some interesting twists without coming across as clumsy or disjointed.  Clever tempo shifts embellish the mid-paced rumbles, and the precise cold blasts and occasionally off-kilter riffs add to the character of the album.   When coupled with the outstanding drumming of Haley and superbly robust production, the whole package gels together nicely.  Haley’s performance is perfectly nuanced, although understandably it’s not as technical or frenetically paced as his work with Psycroptic.     Still, Haley’s creativity behind the kit, especially his terrific double bass work, drives the songs and is the high point of the musicianship.   Alex Pope’s (guitars/vocals) simplistic riffs are countered by his otherwise catchy and dynamic guitar work.  His workman-like, mid-pitched blackened rasp bleeds just the right amount of venom, and he knows his way around a decent vocal hook.

“A Lesson in Ruthlessness” begins with a mean down-tuned groove and chugs along in chunky style before speedy tempo changes and hefty double bass take hold.   The song comes around full circle as earlier riffs and the hooky chorus are revisited.  The off-kilter rhythms towards the back-end  finish the song on a high note.  Elsewhere, the epic “Death Lends the Ultimate Touch” has some nice atmospheric touches and charged-up grooves.    While the lengthy title track (9.14 mins) features some of the album’s best musicianship within an ambitious, cleverly structured composition.

Released domestically last year, Listenable Records have lined-up an International release date which will see the album widely available from late February.  And it’s certainly worthy of wider International attention.   Overall, gripes aside, this is a largely enjoyable album which should appeal to those seeking a no-bullshit, straight-forward slab of extreme metal.  Place of no Pity is steeped in traditional black metal values and ingrained with a burly, modern death metal influence.   But perhaps most importantly; it rocks hard and delivers an abundance of tough, blackened grooves.  Solid.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
February 26th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Ace Barker

    This album is highly recommended and is full of memorable head banging riffs. Very cool. Check it out folks!!


  2. Commented by: Noch

    This is certainly memorable and easily one of the most addictive and immersive records of the winter. More people need to snatch a copy and spread the word.

    Nice review, but I can’t say I agree with your take on the lack of technicality. The rawness of the straight-forward musicianship fits *this* particular mood better. It seems more animalistic and out of control than it would’ve, had it been more of a mathematical approach. To each their own views on the matter though. ;)


  3. Commented by: Luke_22

    Thanks Noch. Yeah I was conflicted with parts of this album. On one hand I love it for exactly what it is, and the straight-forward stuff mostly works well with their style. And when I mention technicality I don’t mean really wanky, techy stuff, just the occasional riff with a few more intricacies to spice things up. That said, it’s still a very enjoyable album.


  4. Commented by: krustster

    Good review for the most part. I really liked this album and actually, I know what you mean about the lack of complexity or whatever. The thing is though, it’s a departure from their other albums, which are a lot faster with more elaborate riffs. I’m not saying “you have to listen to all their tapes to review this one” but if you hear some of the band’s older material, it’ll be a little more evident that this one is sort of deliberately stripped down. Definitely check out “Cauldron” and “Spun Forth as Dark Nets” in any case, they’re incredible albums.


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