This is the first of three brief reviews I’ve written for posting today, covering three new or forthcoming short releases that I’ve really been enjoying. The subject of this one is an EP entitled Embers’ Grave by Ruinebell from Finland and Spain (released this month by Doomentia).
Ruinebell caught my eye this past summer when they released the first single from this second of their two EPs to date. The band is a collaboration between Lasse Pyykkö (guitars) and Pekka Koskelo (drums) from Finland’s Hooded Menace, and vocalist Dopi from Spain (ex-Machetazo, ex-Dishammer, now playing in Bodybag). And if those names don’t get you interested in Ruinebell, there may be no hope for you.
Embers’ Grave doesn’t sound much like Hooded Menace or Machetazo. Instead, it reminds me of that fantastic Tau Cross album released earlier this year by Rob the Baron from Amebix, Away from Voivod, Misery guitarist Jon Misery, and War//Plague guitarist Andy Lefton. I don’t mean to suggest that the style of the music is identical, but there’s more than a little Amebix and Voivod DNA in the cells of both releases.
No one ingredient of the music stands out above the others — because all the ingredients are so damned good. The powerhouse riffs are pure gold, from the ridiculously infectious chugging and pneumatic jabbing in “Inexistence” to the freight-train locomotion in “The Hermit” to the mix of slashing chords and industrial rhythms in “Temple of Isolation” to the thrash-influenced gallop of “Flesh Bone Catacomb”.
The often dissonant and almost always grim melodies lend an air of imminent catastrophe to the songs (though the ringing notes and keyboard ambience that appear here and there are beautiful as well as bleak). The drumming hits like cannonballs fired into your guts, with sublime timing and variations in the progressions that match up with the riffs like hands in tailor-made gloves.
And Dopi’s high, harsh vocals are incredibly distinctive. Many metaphors come to mind: the bellow of a wounded elephant; the sound of a poisoned man trying to vomit up his lungs; the deranged ravings of a street-corner prophet.
In a nutshell, there are no weak links on this EP; it’s a chain of tempered steel from start to finish.
Embers’ Grave is available now on vinyl or digitally via the links below (and from the band directly — see their FB page for details).