Sitting behind about a half-inch of abdominal muscle and varying levels of quarantine padding, the average person houses roughly 25 feet of intestines. When you consider that the average human height is less than a quarter of that length, you begin to realize there are a whole lot of squirming guts packed into a very small space. Should you take a medical-grade scalpel and slice through that thin wall of muscle somewhere in your tum tum, those digestive tubes would come flying out of you like a cobra out of a snake charmer’s basket and probably spitting about as many hazardous liquids.
Being relentlessly pummeled like you are receiving the aural equivalent of an Ip Man punching attack is certainly the goal of Ominous Ruin. In fact, while most bands would opt to have their mid-album instrumental be something a little softer and give the listener a chance to breathe, Amidst’s centerpiece is another slab of technical wizardry that just so happens to not have someone barking over top. To simply label Ominous Ruin as a brutal tech-death band, however, is the equivalent of saying your gut just turns food into poop. Sure, that’s technically true, but there’s a whole lot more going on there. The many folds, villi and bacteria are the unheralded details that provide you quality gut health; so to do the subtle shifts in style, tempo and approach for these Californians.
When the guitars aren’t sweeping, squirming and wriggling, they are often providing a grandiose sense of foreboding with hefty simpler patterns on tracks like “Attuned to the Chasm.” Or perhaps you prefer a slow-building layered approach with guitars that eventually lead to a breakdown style of playing as you would find in “Deception.” Maybe you prefer a more staccato type of riff pattern that runs, abruptly stops, and then launches again like the snap of a slingshot, which you can find on “Consumed.” Hell, about three minutes into “Simulacra” the whole band locks into a loose groove that almost feels like they were just jamming.
Did I mention Alex Bacey and Petr Oplatka’s lead work? They offer the standard brief shreds as you might expect, but the lengthier ones on the likes of “Ritual” and “Consumed” give the leads time to develop and almost have a touch of a human soul to it.
While guitars are surely the focal point for this approach to death metal, the other players in Ominous Ruin deserve your attention too. A longer song like “Labyrinthine Torment” with a clean slow intro will remind many of Archspire, but the ludicrous speed that Adam Rosado delivers his vocals will surely have you thinking of that band throughout. He’s spitting lines at rap speeds and isn’t afraid to vary it up from a rough bark to a vomitus low with some dabbles in other directions along the way. Mitch Yoesle’s bass is readily given the opportunity to weave in and out of the guitar and drum parts like a muscular rock python hunting along a crevasse. The 15-second bass run in “Simulacra” is as satisfying as watching that same python catch its prey. Guest Drummer Andrew Baird of Fallujah is putting his past works to shame on this album. He plays with a speed and precision that makes no sense for a human to be able to do.
All talk of entrails inevitably leads to shit at some point, right? Well, the one thing likely to poopoo this album for some is going to be the production. The level of technicality on display is so clinical that it can come off as sterile. This will hold particularly true for the clicking kick drums. The cleanliness of an operating theater has been applied to the band’s sound, which may reduce some heft, but it affords you the ability to hear so much more of the details being offered. This aspect of the record will be determined to be an issue based on personal taste alone, but I will say that to skip at least sampling this album because of this one issue would be to do yourself a disservice.
Ominous Ruin has put together an absolute monster of a debut that is at once impressive, infectious and assaulting. Just as being able to regularly churn the brown butter means you have a healthy GI tract, know that if you soil your silkies while you listen to Amidst Voices That Echo In Stone that just means it’s working.