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Left In Ruins - "Straight Out Of Hell" (CD)

Left In Ruins - "Straight Out Of Hell" CD cover image

"Straight Out Of Hell" track listing:

1. Both Feet In The Grave (4:38)
2. Left In Ruins (2:43)
3. Side With The Reaper (2:57)
4. Drowning The Saints (4:57)
5. Declaration Under Fire (3:00)
6. Destruction (3:48)
7. Path Of Blood (4:11)
8. Straight Out Of Hell (3:42)

Reviewed by on April 19, 2009

"'Straight Out Of Hell' is modern metal that doesn’t try to sound retro or intentionally appeal to a mass audience."

New York band Left In Ruins has been slowly gaining a following around the Northeast, opening for major acts such as Overkill, Exodus, and Testament. The band plays a hybrid sound that takes element from thrash, hardcore, and groove metal, with a sprinkle of death metal on the side. In late 2008, Left In Ruins’ debut album, “Straight Out Of Hell,” was released. Produced by the band and Biohazard vocalist/guitarist Billy Graziadei, “Straight Out Of Hell” is a auspicious album hampered by a short running length and songwriting issues.

“Straight Out Of Hell” is packed with mid-paced material, akin to later-day Pantera. Even in the early stages of their career, Left In Ruins has a knack for melody, with clean electric guitars a prevalent instrument used in the openings to several of the longer numbers. “Both Feet In The Grave” and “Side With The Reaper” have a gloomy vibe surrounding them, showcasing a different side to the majority of the album, which is relatively straight-forward metal. The title track and “Declaration Under Fire” are where the thrash-heavy moments are located, with the former a violent assault of destruction and hellfire, while the latter has a galloping feel to it, a la Iron Maiden.

The songs progress well, but at times, it feels like a few of them have no direction. This is more apparent on the shorter tracks, like “Left In Ruins” and “Destruction,” where the song plods along, lacking any type of note-worthy moments to leave a lasting impression on the listener. It’s a flaw that many contemporary debut albums suffer from, and “Straight Out Of Hell” is no different.

The eight tracks on “Straight Out Of Hell” equal a running length that is a hair under the half hour mark. This reviewer is up in the air regarding if this is a good or bad thing. On one hand, the band crams a lot into a short time, keeping the listener engaged. On the other hand, “Straight Out Of Hell” seemed like it ended right as it found a steady rhythm and flow.

For an independent release, the production is very strong. The bass is lost in the mix, drowned out by the loud bass drums, but the guitars come through clear and the harsh screaming vocals are right in the front where they belong. The three-guitar attack is one that dominates the album, with harmonies and wild soloing the norm.

“Straight Out Of Hell” is a strong debut album that leaves an excellent first impression from Left In Ruins. The band has a few things to iron out, but that is something that can be worked on over time. The eight tracks are jammed pack with a variety of material, a task that Left In Ruins takes great command of. “Straight Out Of Hell” is modern metal that doesn’t try to sound retro or intentionally appeal to a mass audience, a characteristic that garnishes it an instant appeal factor.

Highs: Three guitar attack, perfectly-placed melodic moments

Lows: Short running length, songwriting flaws, bass drums too loud in mix

Bottom line: A decent debut album with loads of potential, however only some of it is fulfilled

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)