Beyond the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains lies refuge for the depraved in the unincorporated desert wasteland of Phelan. Forcibly considered a population by the census, the true cult of Ruin unofficially resides in the desert far east of Palmdale as the suggested breeding grounds of their late 80’s Southeast Los Angeles style death metal horror. Conceived through drugged and drunken inspiration arisen from the sort of crooked, rotten death and doomed misanthropy Wild Rags Records were churning out at the time Ruin would record one rehearsal tape, ‘Sickening Ruin’ (1991), before unrepentant incarceration, mental illness, and the original vocalist’s loss of voice in an accident dissolved the project. They worship darkness, they celebrate mass murder, and none of this comes as lightly or casually as one would expect from an ‘old school’ death metal project. All the talk of mental institutions, state penitentiary residency, cults and/or gangs feels far more serious when Ruin‘s dryly atmospheric sound hits like a corpse kicked into a hole.
One can only dig up old corpses to find the biological evidence necessary to pinpoint what ancient inspiration still burned deep enough to resurrect and aggress upon Ruin’s future. Though folks suggest Infester or Necrophagia as kin these are loose and meaningless approximations compared to the very clear rhythmic crunch of Master circa 1985, the gory deathgrind of Blood‘s ‘O Agios Pethane’ and ruthless psychotic abandon of Impetigo‘s ‘Horror of the Zombies’. Vocals from sole original member and mastermind Mihail Jason Satan are repulsive in their vomitous gasping hurl; His performance brings a chilling, disturbed muck to a brilliant combination of ‘Realm of Chaos’-meets-‘Severed Survival’ ground-out death horror that just reeks like a ragged basement demo with no polish edges intended.
Ruin had proven a viable return and intense drive with their return ‘Spread Plague Hell’ (2015) demo and those sessions fueled a handful of splits that were soon followed by an admirable full-length debut in ‘Drowned in Blood’ (2017). Their sound had gotten filthier as if many hands and dead souls worked to devolve and entrench the atmospheric values of Ruin’s sound and it magnificently set the band apart from comparably styled releases from groups like Morbo, Undergang, and Desecresy. Beyond that point greater exposure came with the release of ‘Plague Transmissions Vol. 1’ (2018) a compilation of split material and that original demo up to that point. This momentum was absolutely necessary to vault off of, for the cause and the cult. Thankfully ‘Human Annihilation’ delivers utter darkness, a barreling sledge of obscure and morose atmospheric seizure to haunt and disturb beyond expectations.
‘Human Annihilation’ busts through the lower register of my speakers like a knife tearing into a screaming victim’s lung as Ruin brings in their live bassist, guitarist and a new lead guitarist for the kill. Riffs ride at the top of the mix blending with the gargled focus of Jason‘s vocals while the acoustically ringing bass tone acts as a sonic weapon of war meant to scour eardrums and liquefy flesh. The sound is rawly splattered with the immense power of early death/doom metal and death-grinding spontaneity. None of this feels like the abject laziness or youthful abandon that made the aforementioned Wild Rags demo catalog so exciting back in the day, in fact every sound and tone appears carefully crafted and layered into an immaculately oozing form. This cruel death metal surgery comes and goes so quickly that its sheer dynamic density begs for repeated listens.
The ambition, the sheer conceit, of ‘Human Annihilation’ is palpably confident in its destructive qualities and the effect is mentally blurring, almost hallucinatory in the ragged grind of it all and I haven’t felt that sort gut-sickness from a set of riffs since the aforementioned ‘O Agios Pethane’. From the crypts of Finnish death metal’s doom leaning start-ups to the sublimely extreme British death-grinding d-beaten gore the focus of Ruin still feels comparatively violent and unmistakably spawned in the United States; I cannot overstate the effective atmosphere and slapping thud of the post-Repulsion and Master death metal boon. No matter how ridiculously heavy, driving, and dynamically improved the Ruin death cult experience might be I had to wonder how it would hold up over time.
This is a trendless and relatively gimmick free experience beyond a few hold-outs from a not-so-bygone era of disturbing samples. As such, it doesn’t bother competing with the more memorable forms of old school death metal revivalism. What sticks in the mind best is the sound, its furious intensity, and the dreadful scourge of their death/doom influences. Ruin have captured the rabid dryness of DIY 80’s death metal with a ringing hollowness that is ultimately satisfying; This is coequally valuable when compared with a catchy riff or melody and this is a fair leg for ‘Human Annihilation’ to stands upon. For what it is worth, there are a few personal stand-outs I could suggest as points of interest with the first being “Death Meditation Trance” as a gaping death/doom struck wound, the watery Finndeath-esque atmospheric guitar work at the end of “The Embrace of Demons” layered underneath wailing leads, and “A Grisly Fate Awaits” really embodies the darker spectrum of the albums reach. I would recommend those tracks in preview if possible and ‘Human Annihilation’ comes with a generally high recommendation.
Raging thirst for extermination. 4.25/5.0
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