• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Menace Ruine, "The Die Is Cast"

Montreal's Menace Ruine stormed onto the extreme music scene in early 2008 with their blistering debut Cult of Ruins. The enigmatic male/female duo's unusual mixture of black metal, noise, and dark ambient quickly won them a lot of fans (the world clearly needs an evil antipole to Mates of State), as they succeeded in sounding like absolutely no one else. A mere eight months later, they have made the dubious career move of temporarily abandoning much of that sound to release a medieval music-based concept album.


Menace Ruine - The Die Is Cast

Superficially, The Die Is Cast sounds like the work of a completely different band: Genevieve has completely taken over vocal duties; the pace has slowed from blast-beat intensity to a martial crawl; and all of the shrillness and shrieking have been replaced with somber melodicism. Fundamentally, however, the sound remains quite dark and Menace Ruine’s talent for compelling dark ambient has been amplified. While this album is much more accessible than its predecessor, it doesn’t seem like the band has deliberately softened their sound (the title track ends with some extreme, otherworldly dissonance). More likely, they just wondered what it would be like to be "crushing" rather than "frenzied".

I had read that the intention of this album was to pay tribute to the neo-folk of bands like Death In June, which filled me with apprehension, as I expected an album of dour acoustic dirges. Thankfully, while the foundation of the album is somewhat in that vein, it is often buried beneath layers and layers of buzzing, shimmering feedback that would not be out of place on a Fennesz or Tim Hecker album. As a whole, The Die Is Cast sounds far more like Lisa Gerrard fronting Sunn o))) than anything else. Which is no small achievement, as dabbling in medieval music can easily make a band sound like a bunch of hobbit-obsessed Renaissance Faire creeps.

The opening track ("One Too Many") is an absolute monster. Waves of dark feedback drone and glisten under Genevieve’s coldly beautiful vocals, while distant horns (that are not lame) and an insistent slow-motion thump give the track a very majestic feel. The lengthy drone piece that closes the album ("The Bosom of the Earth") is also a stunner: a haunting wall of feedback and overdriven, sustained guitars builds epicly amidst flourishes of cymbals and distant thundering toms for sixteen amazing minutes.  However, the tracks in between (while quite good) mine very similar territory to one another. Once in a while, a welcome departure occurs (such as the eerie bagpipe interlude in the title track), but I am left wondering how staggering this album could have been with a little more work. As it stands, The Die Is Cast frustratingly avoids being a masterpiece.

Sadly, I will probably never get my wish to hear more work like this, as Menace Ruine have vowed to return to their signature scorching mechanized black metal for the next album. They also have an upcoming collaboration in the works with Merzbow, so I expect they will get some deserved wide-spread recognition in 2009. I will certainly be following them closely- if they continue to evolve at this rate, a uniformly brilliant album can’t be far off.



The Eye: Video of the Day


YouTube Video

read more >>>

Review of the Day

Korber/Müller/Steinbrüchel, "Momentan Def."
This rapturous disc is the result of a live improvisation conducted under an aqueduct in Zürich, a 40-foot-tall acoustic space that perfectly matches Momentan's simulation of poised ebb and flow. Not standard microsound fair, of minimal movement or painfully obsessive blip-bending, the piece ingests each members' contribution, Korber's threadbare guitar scratch, Müller's increasingly spartan percussive manipulations, and Steinbrüchel's grainy drone cycles, lifting all in an undulant, misty passage across the broad hollow, action that plays perfectly on the disc's punning title. The piece seems obsessed with "momentum," full of sweeping static washs and low-level machine hums that arrive quickly and pointedly as if to establish motion, but are consistently buffered by contrastive elements more indicative of detail, or a particular "moment" staking its claim within the sinuous whole. Sections of Müller's inventive hitting and surface-testing frequently occupy both ends at once, coalescing into strands of rhythmic interference that are quick to fold under the weight (or lightness) of each stroke. Often Korber or Steinbrüchel will introduce thunderous or ominous sounds via processed feedback or laptop, as if only to watch the colored noise fade into the pale complexion of its surroundings. The level of communication between players that allows this pause-less dialogue to proceed is astounding. Any back-and-forth that appears in "momentan live" (the 30-min. improv session is accompanied by 3 remixes, one by each contributor) occurs underneath the opaque surface of the piece, and a dominant "voice" never comes to the front. The fluidity and graceful progression will recall Müller's recent solo work and Poire_Z's + record, but the real heroes of Momentan are Steinbrüchel and Korber. The young guitarist is a master of beautifully tempered feedback tones and frail note clusters that run nicely alongside the former's synthetic drones and microscopic click-tracks. Their combination allows for the darkly expressive sheen that coats this work, full of intricate, fleeting gradations. The three remixes are equally successful, if more single-minded pieces. Korber introduces a surprising amount of rhythm, his process more additive and loop-based than the others', crafting a bottom-heavy gem of post-technoid atmospherics. Steinbrüchel's is less engaging, a minimal reconstruction consisting of one deep, droning waveform that sounds directly pulled from Korber's feedback and layered with digital crickets and crackling fire. Müller's mix is the most sympathetic to the original, combining the churning pulses and short loops of Korber's take, with the Steinbrüchel's textural achievements to produce a highly differentiated piece that shares "momentan live"'s preoccupation with issues of drift and stasis. While not a landmark recording, the disc stands as a welcome addition to the catalogs of three artists at the top of their respective games. - 


read more >>>

Login Form


Donate towards our web hosting bill!
		at the iTunes store