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Face of Ruin - "Face of Ruin" (CD/EP)

Face of Ruin - "Face of Ruin" CD/EP cover image

"Face of Ruin" track listing:

1. Gutted by the Knife of Guilt (4:21)
2. Pleasure of Malevolence (3:29)
3. Bound Driven to the Altar (3:55)
4. Extinction's Birth (4:07)

Reviewed by on April 25, 2009

"In the short span of four songs taking up a mere sixteen minutes they pack about as much brutality and technicality as can possibly be crammed into such a small space."

The Wisconsin four piece band Face of Ruin have arisen from Milwaukee to bring a technical death metal apocalypse in the form of their self-titled first EP. In the short span of four songs taking up a mere sixteen minutes, they pack about as much brutality and technicality as can possibly be crammed into such a small space. Boasting a few progressive touches, high speed death metal mayhem, and a touch of the melodic to keep everything from imploding, “Face of Ruin” shows enough promise to get any tech death fan salivating for a full length release.

“Gutted By The Knife of Guilt” gets the EP started with a feedback heavy guitar working alongside a chunky bass line before the rapid fire drum beats work their way in. The fact that the bass is not only immediately audible but actually a major part of the song’s structure gives an indication of how Face of Ruin tries to buck the system and put their own spin on the genre. No matter how crushing and massive the dual guitar tones get, the bass almost always sticks along for the ride and keeps itself relevant. There are even several instances throughout the song where the guitars and drums stop entirely for a few seconds to let the bass take the spot light and then all the other instruments do an about face to play off of the melody for the next segment of the track.

The drum work is also highly commendable, keeping an incredibly brisk pace through any given song. Some of the drum rolls are so quick that even the breakneck speed of the guitars seem slow by comparison. The final song, “Extinction’s Birth,” is basically a big tribute to the drummer, as the percussion takes over the track with the lightning speed beats and crashing cymbal work.

There are frequent changes in the style and pacing of the guitars to keep the songs from getting stale. “Bound…Driven To The Altar” features a short guitar solo that heads off into seriously psychedelic territory, and the two guitarists often put the advantages of a dual guitar setup to good use, playing off each other’s riffs and working in opposite directions.

Face of Ruin’s vocalist sticks pretty uniformly to the low death growl, with a few minor adjustments every now and again into a more throaty yell or a higher pitched scream. With all the change ups and interesting guitar elements it’s a shame there isn’t more vocal variation to keep pace. The progressive elements of the music would be much more noticeable if the growls didn’t stay in one place for such extended periods. Despite the band’s best efforts, there is also some bleed through between the songs, as there is only so much that can be done with guitars alone to break up the formula of fast death metal without resorting to non-metal elements like keyboards. Metal fans who are primarily interested in brutality or fast playing probably won’t see any issue there, however.

“Face of Ruin” is a short but sweet showcasing of the band’s technical prowess and ability to keep songs mostly interesting despite some repetition. The entire EP is one big cacophony of high speed technical metal. Hopefully their upcoming full length release will expand on the ideas presented here and be a real death metal masterpiece.

Highs: Technical, fast, and brutal death metal mayhem

Lows: Some bleed through between songs, the vocals could use more variation

Bottom line: A promising technical death metal debut EP in the vein of The Faceless

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)