(Terranoct is a death metal metal band based out of Akron, Ohio, and what you’ll find below is DGR‘s review of their debut album, which is out now.)
Traveling with Ohio’s Terranoct through their first full length release Icon Of Ruin is an interesting journey, as it comprises not only new material that the band have written for the album but also collects the singles that the group have put out since becoming their current form in 2016.
The songs – mostly released in 2021 ’til now, save for one in 2017 and minus one Decapitated cover – add to an incredibly dense album that weighs out to about an hour and three minutes. Terranoct’s Icon Of Ruin has a lot of ideas swirling within it and seemingly leaves nothing behind, and with that, not only tells the tale of the band as a whole but also feels like a series of snapshots throughout an entire death metal scene, as influences grow and wane, ideas enter and leave, and a band themselves mature and mutate into the form they are now.
Icon Of Ruin then isn’t just an album of solid tech-death songs from front-to-back but one whose influences spread far and wide. You can sense that throughout as the band’s tendrils reach and grab different ideas over time, creating an album that is equal parts expansive and trip-through-time.
A release like Icon Of Ruin becomes an anthrolopoligical experience as well, on top of being an enjoyable dive into a swirling cauldron of guitar-shred and hammering drums that’ll rush past you quicker than you can comprehend at times.
If you’ve absorbed a lot of one particular music style, you get real good at picking out moments in time where it seems like an album’s inspriations very well could have lined up with what you’re thinking. Icon Of Ruin especially is an album whose ideas seem to have had a long time gestating, and because of that will often see Terranoct taking on a variety of different forms and switching masks so quickly that the mutation of the band within each song becomes part of the overall dance itself.
Certainly there’s solid handful of certified grade-A ass kickers within Icon Of Ruin‘s runtime, but the hour-plus statistic we keep bringing up is getting highlighted for a reason: This isn’t a genre known for sitting still and letting atmospherics fill the room. Terranoct aren’t creating ‘mood’ with the time they have. They’re throwing piece after piece and idea after idea at you the whole time.
It’s tempting to prescribe the old axiom of preparing yourself for the journey when it comes to a disc like Icon of Ruin then, often with albums like this and especially with bands that love to throw everything and the kitchen sink at you – i.e., Inferi and a lot of the Artisan Era ilk, especially if you prefer said kitchen sink launched at incredibly high velocity – but Terranoct aren’t the sort to send a waterfall of guitar-shred at you. You don’t spend the entire time of Icon Of Ruin in a headspun-daze as pieces flurry past you.
The band fancy themselves instead as the type to write long and intricate songs – there’s still plenty of guitar melody and solo work to be found, but as Icon of Ruin goes on the group get more cinematic in scope – so it isn’t too shocking to see that what Terranoct present here runs the gamut between five to seven minutes easy. “Call Of The Void” especially, scrapes against the eight minute mark. It’s earlier sibling – and previously mentioned early release single for the band (“Cast In Stone”) is one of the first times on Icon of Ruin where the band start reaching for longer song lengths when it gets up near six.
It’s also part of a block early on wherein you get the ‘snapshots through time’ form of Terranoct we spoke of earlier. “Cast In Stone” is full of dancing guitar work and plenty of melodic leads and immediately following is a four-years later released single in “Heresy”, which has more in line with a group like Cognizance and their tendency to write big, chunkier groove and percussive riff work.
You could describe Icon Of Ruin as having two parts, one being a hefty chunk of seperate singles up front taken throughout the band’s history – though opening build-up number “Meridian” and surprisingly melodeath follower “Omnipotence” are both newer songs, going for the classic ‘assemble band and then grab listener by the throat’ dynamic – and then upon striking “Call Of The Void” you get Terranoct as they exist in their current form, one with a tendency to let ideas and ambitions seep through the walls of their structure like an ominous ooze and then give it plenty of time to manifest and take shape.
It’s probably why four of the five songs after track seven stay within the high-five to seven-minute range. “Artificial Conflict”, in that sense, almost feels like it was placed there to provide some levity and offer a head-on death metal blaster to drag the band back to Earth before they completely float off into space in a grander quest for more material to pack into each song. When you have surpremely dense numbers like “Leviathan’s Will” and “Cerebral Strangulation” – both of which also have fantastic song titles – closing out the affair, it’s nice to have a song that is just ‘slam foot through vehicle floor upon missing accelerator, somehow still launch vehicle forward’ in between. Because after that, the last three songs of Icon Of Ruin are going to have you cover some serious ground.
Writing up something like Icon Of Ruin is daunting because a disc like this has so much going on within it that you feel criminal just picking and choosing things to talk about; even if you’ve spoken of how a song moves it’s often like you’re only providing a thirty-percent snapshot of an overall picture. Especially with this album, whose own self-image seems to be a moving train that doesn’t finally settle until it crystalizes into the four-piece that Terranoct now comprises. It is supremely ambitious but also one that is perfectly okay aligning itself right alongside many-a-tech-death scene as they has existed through the years that the band have been composing music for this full-length volley.
The talent on display here is impressive and if you’ve enjoyed the swirling mass of death metal, melodeath riffing, hardcore influence, and cinematic scope that has danced into and out of the ruthlessly precise world that Terranoct call home, then you’re likely to dig into a lot of what Icon of Ruin has on offer. There’s a lot of fire being expelled here, and if nothing else, it’s intriguing to see how the embers finally settle when the group attain current form in the closing moments of the disc.
It’s not often you hear a release seem like a band is evolving and mutating in front of you, but a tour through Icon of Ruin will definitely provide that experience.