This is apparently the second release from US band Fell Ruin, but the first full length and the first I’ve heard of them. What’s within?

Well ‘Respire’ is the acoustic guitar intro which takes route A and simply stops before a couple of solemn drum beats thump us into the sound of Fell Ruin proper. ‘The Lucid Shell’ probably speaks what they do very well; we get a commendably ‘live’ feel to the sound which emphasises its primitive feel (a good thing by the way) and some good death vocals which gargle and hiss their malevolent way through the sinuous song. It begins very funeral doom in a Thergothon/early Unholy kind of way before a cavernous melodic passage dripping with subterranean atmosphere before plunging into prog tinged death metal. Add a little blackening along the extra of the riffs, maybe a touch in the style of Unearthly Trance and you’re there.

The band have a good, solid sound and the more progressive flourishes show a nicely dexterous rhythm section that can bob and weave with the guitars without losing the heavy muscularity. In the overwrought titled ‘To Wither The Golden Rose In Bloom’ the final element of their sound finally pierce’s my noggin; an inclination towards the sludgy end of the spectrum so I guess we’re somewhere around a less dense Unearthly Trance and less belligerent Dragged Into Sunlight.

Apart from the intro, the four tracks lie between seven and eleven minutes long and with the shifting passages of blackened death, doom and sludge with a progressive inclination lying over the whole there is plenty to get to grips with. Fell Ruin, with their debut, have put on a good show and at their best, such as the latter part of ‘…And Choke On Nocturnal Breath’ they inject an urgent, almost tidal flow to the black riffs which really pulls you under. However at other times I’m.more adrift from them: I can sit back and admire the musicianship, the chemistry of the band, how they slide, jump and step between tempos with confidence but still feel somehow disconnected. Fine, that’s probably just me and there is absolutely no denying that this is a good, solid debut that should appeal to fans of the sludgy, blackened end of doom/death, but on the whole its passages rather than whole songs that intrigue me.

Give them a listen, remember the name. I’m sure there’s more and better to come from these guys. But a good start.

(6.5/10 Gizmo)