Reviews : Albums : For Ruin, "December"

For Ruin, "December"

For Ruin is an Irish extreme metal band. The group combines elements of black, speed, thrash, death and power metal to create a style that isn't unique, but their infusion of no-nonsense melody does make them stand out from the brutal crowd. The guitars are the center-stage instrument (although the drums are pushed way up there, too) and the combination of hyper-speed metal riffs with some stomping death grooves and those nigh omnipresent melody lines is effective. Of note is the absence of any hot-shot solos (it's all about those tuneful lines) and a complete lack of keyboards.

The low-mixed vocals are black metal style; throaty, venomous rasps that offer little variation but sound convincingly ornery. There are no clean vocals to be found, so chalk that up as a plus or minus depending on how you feel about that particular style (personally I think the band could use a bit more vocal variation to match the moods of the music - a few death grunts to accent a rhythm or some thrash/power wails to perk up the ears would have been effective - but then, if you can't do that sort of thing, it's best left off). There's plenty of busy guitar work and drum rolls to please the players out there, and as mentioned, enough melody to entertain song lovers.

The production and mix roam around and at times the album sounds thin and lacks punch (so - turn it up with the subwoofer cranked). Sometimes the drums sound clanky and sometimes they sound perfectly pummeling. The guitar sounds range from shrill trilling to meaty monster power chords, so it's a bit baffling and I can only imagine that it was intentional (make the black/speed metal parts sound reedy and thin, make the death sections sound thick and heavy - a neat idea if it was, indeed, intentional). Bass is audible but it lacks punch. Overall it sounds like this record was self-produced, but it's not a detriment because the different sounds help the individual songs (and sections of songs) maintain separate identities.

There are ten tracks running about 43 minutes, most in the four-minute range with one two-minute instrumental (which comes off more as a truncated song without lyrics than an intentionally orchestrated instrumental). All in all this is a solid record with plenty of straight-ahead metal action and tempo shifts galore. The melody/harmony lines help break up any monotony and the mix of speed and stomp is effective. While I can't point to any specifically killer tracks that are "must hear", everything is well done. For Ruin is walking the wire between the accessible and the brutal, and I'd say they've successfully navigated the path without getting so sugary that they've fallen off the extreme metal tight rope.

Standout Tracks

   Into Red
   Towards an End
   Another Breed