Disma, Incantation, Funebrarum: all bands that had at least one member of Ruinous in their ranks at some point or another. These three bands are also mentioned here as suggested alternatives to Ruinous’ unremarkable debut Graves of Ceaseless Death.
Phrases like “old-school death metal” will fly out about this record, and while some of that is true, that doesn’t equate an album to be in the upper echelon of death metal by default.
If the tinnitus-infected, crusty death metal listener is only looking to have their addiction appeased momentarily, Graves of Ceaseless Death is the go-to soundtrack. There’s the frontman trading barbs with himself, a two-sided portrayal of maniacal muffled growls and battered barking screams. Past that is the kind of whammy-heavy guitar antics the targeted audience can’t get enough of, as well as impressive rhythm work from drummer Shawn Eldridge.
So with all that, Ruinous should’ve at least had something bordering on solid, yet this album just feels “there.” Songs hop from reckless tempos to gloomy rancidity with regular timing, and most of it doesn’t register beyond the first listen. Even a dozen full listens later, there’s no “Wow” moment that can be recalled. Whether it’s a under-three-minute cut like “Ravenous Eternal” or the 11 arduous minutes of wandering they do on “Through Stygian Catacombs,” all of the songs feel imprinted with a formula exacted from a “Death Metal 101” textbook.
For most, that’ll be exactly what they want; not to have to think much about what they listen to and a new album to add a few songs to another playlist. With so many great death metal bands stepping outside the lines or filling in new ones on a old template, it’s almost counterproductive to come out with something this unspectacular. It’s not as horrific as some of the fast food metal that gets spotlighted on satellite radio and the front covers of metal magazines, but Ruinous are a shadow of the legendary acts the band members once had a spot in.
(released November 11, 2016 on Dark Descent Records)