Nailing some kind of fluid set of connections between specific metal and punk sub-genres is an art with an undeniable wealth of contributors. Portland, Oregon hardcore headcases Ruminant can be counted among the more interesting fellows slickly flipping the subtlest of toggles between grindcore, sludge metal, crust punk and any number of moderate combinations of those elements. Yet for all of the impressive bouts of sludge-core and grinding crust the parts of Ruminant‘s debut that you’ll remember easiest will definitely be the most ‘standard’ fare in terms of song structures. “Fading Life” is a prime example of the nuclear sort of neocrust the masses churn for these days but you’d never mistake them for Baptists or Tragedy, thanks to a heavy handed early 90’s hardcore punk influence driving the bus.
Though they blur the lines between blackened hardcore and some neocrust most often I cannot overstate the respite that the sludge-like sections offer on an album that really rockets its ass through the full 24 minutes in seeming half the time. If you’ve followed both post-His Hero is Gone material as well as the career trajectory of Integrity and liked it all then you’ll find a lot to like in Ruminant‘s debut; On the other side of the coin if you read the ‘blackened hardcore’ tag and thought you were in for something like Sunlight’s Bane (or even Young and In the Way) think more along the lines of Moral Void where hardcore informs the vast majority of the bands sound but with further detours from D-beat unto sludge. The balance of these elements will please the sludge-core fandom most but, there is a bit of everything for heavy hardcore fans on ‘Ruminant’.
Though I wouldn’t say Ruminant are average or rote the real surprises of this release come infrequently. “Fading Life” is a huge standout and I was hoping for more of these blackened ‘Arise!’ moments as the album progressed. “Barren Soil” has a sort of Parasight (or Martyrdöd) vibe that had me wanting a record that experimented way more with those mid-paced melodic moments, I think a focus in that direction could keep the band from evolving too closely towards the sound of a band like Complete Failure. Though it does feel formative from my perspective, I can highly recommend Ruminant‘s debut for their deepening forays outside of hardcore and crust. For preview I’d suggest “Fading Life” and the duo of “Trench Life” / “Consume” for a good glance at their heavier take on hardcore punk.
Chew and heave, chew and heave. 4.0/5.0
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