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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

David Maranha, "Noe's Lullaby"
David Marhana, known for his work with his brother Andre as the duo Osso Exotico, here presents a new composition that seems equally as informed by Swans and Godspeed You Black Emporer! as by minimalist classical music. Throughout the "Lullaby"s hour (nearly) of music, several patterns cycle over and around each other. The content of each is taken from (melo?)dramatic rock music; a steady bass drum kick, three succinct high-hat hits, a peel of guitar feedback. There's no mistaking the oppressive death-rock gloom that hangs over the work, with rhythmic bass thud anchoring it to an unchanging pace. Images of guitar distortion pedals (most notably a DOD pedal, conspicuously marked "Heavy Metal"), 1/4" guitar cables and a snare drum serve to hammer home the RAWK connotations. Yet, despite the many references to what might be percieved as an energetic or cathartic genre, the music does not evolve or build to any climactic noise; rather, all of the elements present at its beginning of the CD make appearances several times, and then "Noe's Lullaby" simply ends. The composer includes the phrase "to play LOUD" (caps are his) in the sleeve text, but the music isn't loud-sounding at all. So volume doesn't seem to affect the music very much (I resent a composer telling me how to listen to his or her music, anyway). Neither is it particularly narcotic, as its title implies. I tried going to sleep to it, but the threat of a big loud climax, while never actually arriving, seemed possible at every moment.


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