LIE IN RUINS – Floating in Timeless Streams (2020)REVIEW

Crumbling in plain view, an inanimate abeyance of the final elemental chisel strike that’d topple their long-standing statuesque omen, the God’s many faces wither in slow-weeping temporal misery — An affront to the immortality of their mythos. Paean to long dead faces, ruthless cultures and their lost ancient meaning Finnish death metal quartet Lie in Ruins founded their formative years on the well-stomped bones of mid-90’s death metal ’til the early 2000’s offered them another opening. originally as a duo. Undoubtedly one of the earlier bands to propose the unearthly resurrection of Finnish death metal via a string of demo tapes in the first half of the decade, their first (‘…Monuments‘, 2005) and second (‘…Statues‘, 2007) demos persist in my mind as some of the better formative releases of this wave, which would truly begin to thrive around 2007 when countless Finnish death metal bands would arrive and many of which persist today among the finest. Mid-paced, creeping and in the finest tradition this early string of releases from the Espoo-area crew would find them expanding to a representative quartet and releasing a Spikefarm debut (‘Swallowed by the Void‘, 2009) which remains overlooked despite its incredibly solid Autopsy influenced sound. Ascended, Stench of Decay and Krypts (among others) were working out some pretty solid comparable ideas nearby at the time but it’d been official proof positive that this new set of bands weren’t all just going to topple over after a couple of EPs. Despite evolving quickly and presenting the undeserving public with a handful of extreme epics within this last decade it remains worth repeating that Lie in Ruins have not yet gotten their credit due for their exemplar discography and yet there on their long-awaited third full-length, ‘Floating in Timeless Streams‘, they are demanding it with their most ruthless, killing vibrancy to date.

To be fair the then entirely rabid old school death metal resurgence had become a cavernous and bewildering blackened death absurdity around 2014 when Lie in Ruins‘ revelatory work ‘Towards Divine Death‘ would unfortunately land upon colic children’s ears and cause a strangely polarized reaction and quite a few scummy reviews criticizing the album’s length and long-form arrangements which were nigh predictive of where Desolate Shrine (a heavily celebrated band) would strengthen on their next couple of records. Leading up to this moment the fellows in this band had forged several new allegiances including their underrated black metal project Perdition Winds. Patience, dissonance, doom, and even some blackened horror fastened Lie in Ruins in my mind, a wandering fixation as to what would manifest next since the ‘right’ biosphere for their sort of craft had appeared a couple of years after their most key recording had released. Some members would join Corpsessed, Sargeist and Cataleptic in the meantime where each fusion would become a new testimony to their elite level of musicianship. A full four years after that second album I’d entirely missed out on the 28 minute song ‘Demise‘ they’d released via longtime label Dark Descent. This was a sign of change I think many’d missed out on but also a bit of a singular event meant to illustrate the power of a new line-up. A split EP with German death metal lifers Purgatory would provide further example of a steadfast approach, less atmospherically inclined death metal that’d barrel forward with some stronger urgency. Was this indicative of the way forward?

Not exactly, perhaps not at all. Yes, the roots and wild gnarls of classic Finnish death metal are wriggling throughout the motions of ‘Floating in Timeless Streams’ but it is the cursed menace and ominous horror of their ancestors that powers the most exciting parts of the album. If anything this record is even more atmospherically charged than ‘Towards Divine Death’ and the major difference is that they’ve written catchier, more engaging pieces that give solid enough reason to return to each. Drummer Jussi-Pekka Manner (Corpsessed) reigns and releases the tension that drives this album masterfully with his performance, keep in mind this guy was an integral part of Tyranny‘s “comeback” album ‘Aeons in Tectonic Interment’, a truly underrated masterpiece fueled by dynamic rhythm work. This means Lie in Ruins might go blackened death, bestial swarming mass, death/doom, or full on ‘Shadows of the Past’ and they seem all the more capable throughout all of it with this guy behind the kit. It might not sound too exciting that I am singing praises for both pacing, style, and dynamic upfront but it is worth emphasizing how much more lively and readable this third album is compared to the (also great) slithering murk of their second record.

Side A reveals all arrows and their bleeding targets in the mist, starting with the triumphant crag-scrambling horror of “Earth Will Mourn”, the first of a few songs on this album that remind me of recent Desolate Shrine records, perhaps with less propulsive slipperiness and a very present influence from auld Finndeath; The rock influence solo that kicks off “Spectral Realms of Fornication” is a key note, and a bit of foreshadowing for the main melodic statement of the piece which develops within tremolo’d leads as it foams to a head. You will feel the cavern, the scorched fire pit, the ritual, and the longing hallucinatory staring into the night sky as the first side of the record progresses. The interludes in each side of the album help to continue this thread of surrealism and a haunting presence, where death’s veil is not only a fog across the isthmus imagined but a very real scourge spearing, stabbing its targets in the dark. If you’re a bit confused as to what that’d entail, consider “(Becoming) One With the Aether” an astral death metal piece heavily influenced by black metal, in fact the major recommendation for ‘Floating in Timeless Streams’ is that its atmosphere and aggression almost appears from the perspective of menacing black metal ’til developed into death metal’s more natural state of doom and belligerent havoc. Not only is this indicative of the heightened phrasal evolution of nigh technical death metal circa ’93-’95 in Finland but it presents a path that isn’t entirely lorded over by the high standards of Demigod‘s debut, there is much more to these ellipses of melodicism which eventually reveals itself as memorable motif. You’ll hear this on “Drowned” in an even more pronounced fashion albeit with less punctuating repetition compared to “(Becoming) One With the Aether”.

Side B bridges itself upon doom via emergent tritones and breathy atmospheric death momentum, “The Path” quickly becomes my favorite piece on the album for it as it lumbers forward as if the experience were preparing me for a full bore death/doom raid. We’ve reached the point of exemplary form manipulation here or, perhaps I’ve become soused by the intoxicating pallor of their doomed roll-out of this second half. Either way I was fully gripped by this fever-dream at the haunting apex of the album, it is perhaps where I’d wanted ‘Towards Divine Death’ to bend several years ago. “Descending Further” offers the intensified refraction of that gloom with what is certainly the most ‘evolved’ and impressive composition on the album; This piece is horrifying torpor upon my mind, delivering the sensation of a waking dream including the unwilling restraint of sleep paralysis and the resultant sensation of a corpse. More practically speaking the pace has picked up here and rolls into one of the more traditionally jogging riff focused pieces “Suffocating Darkness”, again a track that further illustrates the blackened death spectrum Lie in Ruins are exploring throughout this record. At this point the existing fan or the newer listener has the sense that these guys have found a way to thrive within 4-6 minute songs, show all that they are capable of and deliver a uniquely horrifying pure death metal narrative above all else.

So, what would push this record over the edge? Frankly speaking, time and the room for resonance. ‘Floating in Timeless Streams’ is a record to be lived with, utilized in moments of collapse and dogged spirits. However you’d approach or enjoy the experience it is much too dense with ideas to lay judgement upon within a month or two. A fairly standard cop-out on my part but I figure if you’ve already decided you love death metal that pushes out a full-ranged oeuvre , this is going to be a gem to drink deeply of. Beyond the gorgeous and dire arrangements, which are entirely bursting with skeleton-stomping rapture or terrifying gloom, this is an impressive aesthetic piece via a painting from guitarist R. Ärling whose style you’ll recognize from recent Korgonthurus and Malum cover art, this time with a color palette perfectly suited for a geist at the edge of a dark autumnal forest. The thought, skill, and aesthetic here are all undeniable yet above all else my experience with ‘Floating in Timeless Streams’ has left me with the drive to push deeper into the forest and keep listening. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Floating in Timeless Streams
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records
RELEASE DATE:November 20th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Death Metal,
Blackened Death Metal,
Death/Doom Metal

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