A little while back, we at Grindaar received a demo from a band based in Ireland who hoped that we might find time to review this, their second demo. Always willing to try something new we gave it a spin and it was pretty clear early on what kind of metal this is. Before we go any further I should be honest and state that I'm not all that familiar with the death, extreme or black metal scenes. The closest I come to that kind of thing is Napalm Death, Carcass and one Obituary album. So I wasn't exactly eager to review something I don't know a whole lot about. However, what I heard over the next 28 minutes inspired me to get typing.
Opening track "Dread" wastes absolutely no time at all in setting the stall, we're immediately taken into a superb fast drum beat matched all the way by a great riff and cracking melodies. Indeed a feature right throughout the demo is the impressive guitar interplay between good old fashioned riffing and some lead guitar work which blend together perfectly. "Vertigo" and "Starling" follow hot on the heels and stick closely to their defined genre but at the same time stray into their own space so that each track remains fresh. It would be easy for a novice of this kind of music like me to lose interest and complain that it all sounds the same but there is enough variation here to keep an amateur happy.
Now all that is pretty impressive but here comes the bit that'll really rock your boat. For Ruin are a one man band. And the best compliment I can pay John Murphy is that I had no idea this was the case before I visited the For Ruin website. To write 5 of the 6 songs, record each of the instruments and also produce a demo of this quality is quite staggering. And on the subject of production you'll be amazed at the clarity of the sound here. When I think of a demo, I think of a song not quite at its full potential, bogged down in a half-assed sound mix, but John's previous experience as a studio sound engineer have clearly laid some solid foundations.
My only slight criticism would be that the Celtic flavoured instrumental "Rinn Bearna" doesn't really fit and appearing halfway through the demo can only serve to cause a stutter and upset the pace. But Murphy has already stated that he is a fan of this music and intends to record more of it so who are we to argue, it's his band and he can do what he likes! Conversely, the instrumental section midway through "Another Breed" fits like a glove and adds an extra dimension, suggesting the song writing is beyond the experience of it's writer.
It's hard to say anything negative about Shade. As a statement of intent of what this band are capable of it's a mightily impressive affair and we can only wonder what can happen if For Ruin are picked up by a label - surely someone out there will realise the potential here and give John Murphy a crack at it. Whether that helps or hinders his writing and recording process, we can only hope we get to find out.
Reviewer: Marky Boy