ruinousDeath metal. In this case, death metal from a band formed by three ex-members of Funebrarum, some of whom have also enjoyed stints in such acts as Disma and Goreaphobia. Which is nice, I guess, if you’re into the whole “have also been in band X” thing.

There are about a trillion death metal bands these days, which is always a surprise to me given how sparsely populated most death metal gigs are north of London these days, and so it’s sometimes quite hard to review them. In most cases, advances in modern production will mean that by and large they all sound polished. Most folks in bands these days can do the technical bits and bobs that marked out the big boys when death metal first launched, so as a reviewer, you can generally look forward to a lot of death metal that is…alright. Therefore, when I listen to death metal bands these days, as well as listening for the usual things – is there a good atmosphere to the music, can they play their instruments, are the songs well written, is the production competent? I’m also listening for that something extra. The defining factor. The thing that makes them stand out.

Ruinous are a competent death metal band. The music here sounds just as you might expect it to; there is an old-school death metal tone to the guitars, the vocals are growled and yet pleasingly decipherable, and there are some genuinely excellent drum sections here for your delectation. Given the Funebrarum heritage, it’s probably no surprise that there is a dragging, filthy nature to the best songs – and I’m talking the truly memorable “Dragmarks” here, with its collision of Deceased-like thrash metal and Necrophagia-n derangement. Sadly, those moments are few and far between, and whilst you won’t hear anything here that is poor quality (they are far too good musicians for that to occur), there aren’t many moments that elevate this from being merely more of the same,

Some of the tracks are a little more stand out – “Procession of Ceaseless Sorrows” puts the death into doom/death, while eleven minute-plus epic “Through Stygian Catacombs” has enough interesting twists and turns to elevate it into one of the year’s stand out tracks. The problem is that aside from three stand-out tracks, this is fairly run of the mill, meat and potatoes death metal. Perhaps Ruinous haven’t decided what they want to do yet within the established parameters of death metal. Certainly, “Procession of Ceaseless Sorrows” suggests that they are probably at their best when they slow things right down, and to that end they could really carve a niche out for themselves, but as things are, this album sounds and feels to me like a really great three track EP that comes with some fairly undistinguished filler songs to pad it out.

(6/10  Chris Davison)