(Find out what our man DGR thought of the new album from San Francisco’s Ominous Ruin, out now on Willowtip Records.)
Ominous Ruin‘s first full length album – after a string of demo’s and EPs throughout the late aughts – Amidst Voices That Echo In Stone starts in a very different spot from where it ends up.
The band’s sound is one of multiple extreme genres in all-out combat with each other, fully unloading from the hyperactive Tech Death scene even as it drains the arsenal from a very Brutal Death inspired segment as well.
It’s an ambitious album for sure, but not one that feels intentionally crafted to become a journey – more that it just wound up that way as songs morphed over time, from that previously mentioned superspeed blast festival into something weirdly proggy, incredibly dense, and all too willing to dive headlong into some profoundly (and joyously) dumb caveman chug all over the course of nine songs.
If it seems like the Bay Area crew are one of those amorphous bands able to reach tentacles into a variety of places and drag down so much of it back into their maw by that descriptor, you wouldn’t be too far off, but the fact that they make it work here…now that’s worth talking about.
Early on in Amidst Voices That Echo In Stone it is clear that one of the band’s biggest weapons is vocalist Adam Rosado (also of Leprous Divinity, whose 2014 EP I believe we covered along the lines of ‘hey, if you feel like getting your face caved in this is a pretty good option’) whose lows propel much of the album forward – matching the bands many intricacies and dalliances near note for note.
If there’s a beat or a shift in tempo happening at rapid pace throughout any song, Adam is there right alongside it and, as the disc gets deeper into its track listing, the experimentation with differing Death Metal styles on the vocal front becomes more prominent as well – so that way halfway through Amidst Voices… you’ll notice things have shifted from a rapid-fire Tech-Death slaughterhouse on the vocal front into the sort of bone-crushing bellowing that one might equate more with Brutal Death and Slam.
It almost seems like that the album’s fulcrum point – where it mutates into something more gnarly than the initial instrumental whirlwind present on opener “Ritual” – could be said to happen during the closing minutes of “Chrysalis Of Flesh” and from there, Ominious Ruin find a solid footing to plant themselves in for the rest of the disc.
Especially as the bass guitar gets brought to the forefront during the following instrumental showcase “A Feast For Shadows” – if you like a solid bass-twang and the alien noise that seems to come from the showy sort of high-strung madness that often infects a tech-death bassist then the opening of that song is sure to satisfy.
However, you want the full ominous-odyssey in a seven minute nutshell then “Labyrinthine Torment” arrives with an easy recommendation badge pinned firmly to its chest.
Its one of the highlights of the album and placing it in the middle of the disc is a smart decision, because it is the pillar which the band rallies around.
You’ll get everything Ominious Ruin have available to them within this one, from the haunting and somewhat peaceful opening after the lead-in from “A Feast For Shadows” right into the descent into madness that is the song’s early stages, and once it clicks into overdrive the song just seems to drop itself lower and lower into the abyss, as the music becomes a labyrinth of parts on its own.
They pack a lot into what initially seems like a slow moving dirge, and once it achieves its true monstrous form the hammering drums just seem like another loud weapon in an overwhelming assault.
It never achieves lightspeed in the way many of the other songs on the album seem to, but the proggier wanderings of a band that has firmly planted itself on the more extreme side of Death Metal are still something worth listening to, and the mood of the song even carries over into “Consumed”, which is one I could easily see drawing comparisons to Cattle Decapitation‘s heavier moments.
Its funny to think that late February might have brought us one of the albums that will be battling it out to make it on to year end lists, but Amidst Voices That Echo In Stone is such a practiced execution of already well laid out genres that you can’t help but be impressed.
It doesn’t really break boundaries but the way Ominious Ruin tie everything together into this sharp-as-a-scalpel surgical procedure guarantees it will find its way to get its hooks in you.
It may grow slowly, or the immediate bulldozer effect may be enough to catch you attention, but one way or another this one could easily dark horse its way into a lot of your listening habits.