Smile Politely

Review: Ruins’ Lungs

My introduction to local sludge-metal band Ruins came a few months ago in the charmingly musty basement of local DIY space Dan Akroyd’s House. They were opening for experimental grind band Khann, and I was certainly expecting it to be a loud show. But I was unprepared for the sheer force that these guys brought. I felt literally blown back, enveloped by the sound. Call it sappy if you want, but I had a feeling Ruins were going to turn out to be one of my favorite bands a few minutes into that performance. Now, 2011 has come and Ruins are releasing their debut, a four track EP entitled Lungs, available as a cassette (trust me, this is more common than you might think) or digital download.

“Worldbreaker” begins with a quick wail of feedback before going into an epic doom freakout that would make Sleep jealous. After a minute or so of craggy riffing, there’s a surprisingly nimble start/stop segment, and a short reprise ends the overture. The second track, “Carry the Thought” adds in a surprisingly good growl vocal — I usually hate the things, but I find myself enjoying this one — and a definite progressive songcraft and sense of atmosphere, recalling the epic freakouts that Neurosis conjured on Through Silver in Blood. “In the Ground” is the tape’s heaviest track, with the band wailing away on all cylinders throughout, as well as an impressive syncopated section and a few seconds of clanging, blunt feedback before crunching to a halt. The title track and closer builds from a relatively clean intro to a crushing, near-shoegaze verse. At just over six minutes, it’s the longest song on the tape and fill it’s length perfectly, managing to be both a furious sludge-beatdown and an epic-lenth shoegaze track.

Stream “Carry the Thought”

Perhaps the most striking thing about Lungs is its excellent production values (the album was recorded by Good Night and Good Morning’s Ryan Brewer). Granted, I’m listening to this on computer speakers and note a boombox, but Lungs sounds more clear and precise while still maintaining the band’s furious live energy. Analog nostalgia aside, it’s almost a shame to put something this well-done onto a cassette. Regarless of format, it’s an impressive debut, and I look forward to what Ruins will hopefully have to offer in the future.

Ruins play Friday at BASIC House and Sunday at the Dude Ranch. To purchase Lungs, go here or here.

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