Hell Is Empty

Written by: PP on 28/11/2009 17:51:23

Ruiner are one of the most hyped bands in the hardcore scene at the moment, and not without reason. But before we get into the specifics, a warning sticker has to be applied to their new record "Hell Is Empty" because there's a 90% chance that you'll either fucking hate this band, or love them to bits. A few people will inevitably fall in between the two, but because Ruiner's school of hardcore is all about the message and less about the melodies (though the record isn't as monotonous as it initially sounds), it's all too easy to dismiss them as a one-dimensional band based on a single listen or two.

The record kicks off with a lightning speed hardcore punk piece, with tiny pieces of melody injected to the background to keep things interesting. The sound is immensely raw, energetic and powerful, where the DIY-styled production shines through even though the songs have received proper studio treatment. The way in which Ruiner inject their songs with subtle melody reminds me of the way Comeback Kid does the same in songs like "Broadcasting" and "Wake The Dead", except Ruiner have way more vibrant bass-sounds in the mix. It's as if Ruiner balance on a tightrope between hardcore and melodic hardcore without really belonging into either genre properly.

Let me just remind you again that getting used to the subtlety of the melodic guitars and how they create the perfect musical landscape for Ruiner's brand of hardcore will take you more than just a couple of listens. It took me for ages before I eventually became accustomed to it, because like I mentioned earlier, Ruiner is more about the message than the actual music. Now the vocalist has a coarse voice and it sound's like he's aimlessly rambling at first, but closer inspection reveals lyrical intelligence close to that of Greg Graffin (Bad Religion). Not necessarily in an analytical, socio-political context, but rather in an incredibly intriguing and well articulated stream-of-consciousness - it's as if we take a peak inside the brain of Rob Sullivan on each song of the disc. "Two Words" in particular displays a fantastic ability to use little word plays, and yes, I'm actually going to paste the entire song's lyrics because they are some of the best I've heard in a while in hardcore:

"Hello, you fuckers, you assholes, you social rejects, I hope you get my sarcasm as I generalize our sub culture, that once had the biggest of mouths. Now scared to just speak up, scared of prepubescent teens with the fastest hands or has-been role models who gave in to their own cynicism. I might seem jaded, I might seem arrogant, however, I am a dude of many opinions which I encroach on every open ear. I find it offensive when someone cowards behind tight lips, save face for the sake of social status, prostitution with a pretty face. No approval here not bought with pride, all loss for someone else's gain. Keep your mouth shut. Keep your eyes straight-a-head You might make it out of here unscathed but devoid of purpose. Mediocrity is a fucking cancer, it seems airbourne and contagious. I found myself here-when I didn't fit-most anywhere else. Now I find it hard to relate to the most familiar of faces. Don't Care. Pardon my apathy and my articulation with cheap childish phrases. But I hate the excuses. I give this nothing more than these two words: Fuck it. Don't care how cliché this all sounds, this was made for the individual but is ruined by the ignorant masses.

Now isn't that a brilliant way of summarizing the entire hardcore scene and lifestyle in a short number of lines? The choice of words and how they embed what Sullivan's trying to say is sublime and is what makes the track as memorable as it is. There are more such moments scattered across the record, but "Dead Weight" ('The punchline in this joke? We are angels at birth, but true sinners and we're always looking for a hustle'), "Part One", "Part Two" and "Convenient Gods" have some of the best ones to name but a few.

Admittedly, a full hour of Ruiner's hardcore might be a bit too much to digest, because you won't get much out of it if you're not paying constantly attention to Sullivan's fantastic lyrics. That's why I believe that the 25 minutes that "Hell Is Empty" lasts is an ideal length for the album, because by the time you reach the end of the record, you won't feel worn down by any repetitive riffs or stupid chug-breakdowns, which are actually non-existent on the record. Can you see a trend happening here (Wisdom In Chains anyone)? All the best hardcore releases avoid the use of such intelligence-insulting techniques, which is why Ruiner's album is one of my favorite hardcore albums this year, even if it fades out a bit towards the end.

Download: Two Words, Part One, Dead Weight
For the fans of: Have Heart, Shipwreck A.D, Ceremony, Champion, Defeater
Listen: Myspace

Release date 22.09.2009
Bridge Nine Records

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