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Menace Ruine, "Cult of Ruins"

cover imageBy all accounts this is a metal album.  From the dark, lo-fi black-and-white artwork, gore-ified fonts and titles, I expected some form of death or black metal, and I was pretty much right on target.  Now, knowing the label that put this out, I assumed it couldn't be just any generic metal album, because Alien8 is known for leaning towards the experimental.


Alien8 Recordings

The opener, "Process of Bestialization," cemented that hypothesis of mine rather quickly.  Sure, the demonic vocals and drum machine blasts raised fingers up in Ronnie James Dio devil horn fashion, but the accompanying controlled feedback that reached a point of near ambience was a different demon entirely, and was definitely conventional riffing or head banging in nature. 

For those who like their metal either black or deathy or a combination of both, tracks like "They Who Enter Caves" will fit the bill. It is hard to tell if the track is being led by a processed guitar or a synth but the pace and mood of overall track, coupled with the vocals and drums, is unabashedly metallic in nature.   However, the underlying ambience that is a bit more apparent during the ending shows more debt to dark ambient than the rest of the track leads on.  Similarly, the 12-minute "Bonded by Wyrd" adds some prog rock elements into the metal sludge with its rapid guitar arpeggios and restrained vocals and massive drum break down during the second half.

Other tracks show the metal vestiges even less, the sustained "kvlt" produced guitar roar of "Dove Instinct" have more in common with label mates Nadja or some overamped release from the heyday of the Cold Meat Industries label than it does to any traditional metal band.  Even though "Sky as a Reversed Abyss" is more blatant in its use of guitar and other forms of traditional instrumentation, the lugubrious pace and barely structured guitar put it more in the family tree of early Swans or other like minded industrial-tinged sludgesters. 

It wasn't entirely wrong to immediately assume this is a headbanger's type album (there is definitely a black metal edge to this entire album), the sound is actually much more varied than expected from the genre, and incorporates a significant amount of other stylistic elements that will catch the ears of those who aren't adherent metal heads (such as I).  Although this mysterious band (as of this writing there isn't even an entry on for them, and they've got everything!) seems to be relatively new on the scene, they are already showing a wide enough array of talents to make them worth keeping an eye on. 



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Review of the Day

ovalprocess, "ovalcommers"
Ovalcommers starts and ends with high marks, with the anti-compositional composer incorporating new sounds into the audio soup. The pulse is strong and the noise is multi-dimensional, dynamic, mobile and emotive. This eventually fades however, into the proverbial array of untitled tracks packed with multi-tonal scratchy hums. By the middle of the disc, the music has become ambience, eyelids sink, and other activites win attention until it nearly ends. But before it quite ends, Popp has sadly chosen to do one of the most irritating trends in the past ten years: he leaves 25 minutes of silence on track 11 before a new unexpected (de)composition jumps in. The music that arrives after this silence is phenomenal. The first song is an excellent match of bombastic low end, drifting harmnoics and captivating high pitches, the second pursues the more typical Oval sound with scratching rhythmic sounds, yet adds more fluid melodies and song structure. This portion of the disc is so much more exciting and unpredictable than the rest of Ovalcommers that I wonder what's holding him back fom making a phenomenal album. I honestly can say I like his stuff, but does he really want to keep releasing the same album over and over again? Is he afraid to explore new grounds as Oval? To me, the process is getting rather tired and the journalists who herald this stuff over and over again are merely chasing their tales. You've presented the process, perfected the process, now do something with it.



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