Release DetailsLABEL N/A
RELEASED ON 10/16/2005
posted on 10/2005 By:
I reviewed a split demo not too long ago involving this promising Irish group, so it will seem like the guy responsible for For Ruin is just shitting out album after album, but the truth is that the demo he sent in a few months ago was actually over a year and half old. Since that recording, he has been hard at work on a proper demo highlighting solely the work of what he undoubtedly considers his baby.
The first thing you should know about For Ruin is that its sole musician is a dude named John. He plays the guitar, drums, and every other part included on this six-song demo. If that isn’t impressive enough, he also recorded the material by himself while living in Spain, and has pimped this demo and the one preceding it better than Victory Records pimps hardcore during the breaks in Metal Asylum on Fuse. He cares passionately about his music, irrespective of how it’s going to break his bank, and that in and of itself should be respected. Few artists out there approach their recordings with as much care, honesty, and willingness to improve as John.
Before I talk about this release, I’d like to note a few things I said in the For Ruin split demo with Meiche. For one, I argued that not enough of the songs were memorable. There weren’t enough melodic riffs and most of what was offered was adequate but not up to par when compared to a few noteworthy tracks (one of which appears on the new demo). I also remember giving the release an average production score. I don’t regret any of these arguments, as I think they all stand as correct today as when I first wrote that review. There was a lot of promise in that demo, but not all of the songs were good enough that I’d want to return to the demo a month or two later and listen to it all the way through.
I expected improvement, but I didn’t expect what I find here on Shade, For Ruin’s second demo. The songs are memorable, so much so that when I dig this up on my iPod I know by their names what the songs will sound like (always a good sign), and the production is clearer and sounds much less like it was recorded on dingy equipment in a smelly basement. What comes to mind most quickly when thinking of this demo is the word class. Some of these songs are downright classy, meaning they progress with subtle changes in structure and the riffs sound so distinct from one another. It was obviously all arranged and assembled with the care of someone who has taken all criticism into consideration and decided to write music that will blow away any prior release. I brought up a few names in the last review, namely early In Flames, and that comparison still sticks, but if For Ruin built its own sound in the split demo, it certainly builds with a stronger foundation this time around, as I can’t really extend beyond that comparison without lying. The In Flames melody is there, but somehow I find myself much more excited about listening to this demo than I am to stuff like Lunar Strain; the effect is much more immediate here, while still retaining that epic feeling. The vocals are also superior to the younger, more throaty Mikael Stanne, of whom I’ve never been a big fan.
“Dread” is the demo’s opener, and it builds on a really thin guitar sound that grows chunkier with time. If the point of an opening song is to build excitement for the rest of the album, then “Dread” certainly works. It is epic without milking itself dry with simplicity, contains a few structural changes that will surprise, and returns to that thin guitar sound with an awesome lead around 2:30 into the song. The solos fucking rip. Shit like this will bite you in the ass to remind you that even In Flames, ignoring the degenerates that they currently are, started somewhere. The following track, “Vertigo,” is taken from the split demo, and the production sounds cleaner and the playing tighter. Not much needs to be said here, as it’s an improvement on a song that was already kickass to begin with.
In the review of the split demo I remember saying that the instrumental track was what impressed me the most. Well, call me doubly impressed, because on Shade we’re treated with “Rinn Bearna,” which nearly blows away “Treading,” the split demo’s instrumental. It’s shorter and serves more as a segue into one of the demo’s harsher, more extreme songs. John picks up an acoustic guitar and plugs away, playing one of the more beautiful tracks I’ve heard in 2005, including the two tracks on Darkest Hour’s latest.
The most extreme song on the demo is, without a doubt, “Another Breed.” With a tale about “tortured, empty screams” and “visions of dark dreams,” would you expect anything less than something that annihilates and slays? The mood is most definitely somber on this one, like the others, but what separates this song from the rest is the pounding, chunky and addictive riff. John’s vocals are also more varied, ranging from deep, guttural growls to shrieks more relatable to black than death metal. Hearing this almost makes me wish this were left out of the For Ruin demo and developed by John in a side project, as it does sound quite different than the rest, although it could be easily argued by others that it adds depth and character to Shade. Either way, it’s a strong track. Tossed onto the demo and following “Another Breed” is a suitably strong take on a Rotting Christ original. More than anything else, it shows where John got the influence for the more extreme “Another Breed.”
I strongly encourage those who were at any point interested in melodic death metal to check out For Ruin’s latest demo, Shade. Those who have grown bored with In Flames, and even those currently into Rotting Christ, should give ‘em a listen. I will be keeping an eye out for future releases, because I think if John keeps pushing this band in the same way he has been the last year or so, For Ruin could be a fairly big name in the melodic death scene.
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