After releasing a demo and a full-length between 2011 and 2013, New York City based black/death metal band Ruin Lust went silent for six years. Considering how many other projects drummer/vocalist Mike Rekevics is a part of this may not be surprising, but what is surprising is how active Ruin Lust has been since re-emerging. Sacrifice and Choir of Babel came back-to-back in 2019 and 2020, showcasing the group’s focus on blasting and chaotic riffing that was as ferocious as some of the best in the genre. Admittedly despite the sheer amount of power Choir of Babel left me a bit underwhelmed, as the songs tended to run together and the slower closing track “Rite of Binding” stretched out a bit too far. Three years and a pandemic later, the trio has focused on writing material that’s slightly more diverse without losing any of the intensity and the resulting album Dissimulant is better off for it. Spread across eight tracks and a lean thirty-one-minute run, the material rarely lets off the gas but manages to switch things up in ways that make individual songs stand out.
Like its predecessor, Dissimulant is bolstered by razor sharp productions that allow the instrumentation to hit as hard as possible while still providing enough clarity to make out the details. It’s a delicate balance for this type of black/death metal, but Ruin Lust nails it and it allows the listener to focus on the subtle transitions that happen on each song. Tracks like “Clinamen” move from explosive blast beats and churning riffs that feel like they’re going to swallow you up into a slower break that lets an ominous melody take the spotlight. Even when the band pivots over to these slower moments, they don’t linger on them for too long and effectively build tension as things whip back up into all-out violence. “Purge” is a great example of this, as around the two-minute mark it moves into a slow burning and bleak riff that brings in some hints of sludge/doom and reminds me a bit of groups like Black Fucking Cancer. It’s similar to “Rite of Binding” from Choir of Babel but is a bit shorter in length and uses the slower tempos more effectively. The more varied attack makes a significant difference, as you’ll sometimes get more lurching death metal and even some D-beat injected into the warlike cadence. There are still a few of the blasting sections that do run together, but some of that is just the nature of the style and the number of passages that stand out on repeat listens far outweigh the ones that don’t.
While the vocal work is still split between J. Wilson and Mike Rekevics, there have been some subtle changes on Dissimulant. There is plenty of back and forth between the guttural growls and higher pitched screams and shrieks, but the vocals are a little less buried this time around and come through with even more intensity. This makes the slower passages pop out a bit more, with “Purge” in particular gaining additional momentum thanks to its dense, guttural growls that seem to expand outwards over the recording. Unlike some of the other black/death bands of this type, Ruin Lust isn’t quite as predictable with the shifts from low to high pitches, throwing some curveballs at the listener. It isn’t anything drastically different, but as with the instrumental work the subtle tweaks make for an even stronger album.
Dissimulant provides a more dynamic attack than its predecessors, and it’s clear that Ruin Lust has refined their songwriting to its most potent level. Each of the eight tracks bludgeons and blasts in equal capacity but switches things up in how it achieves that, providing sections that stick with the listener even as everything around them gets reduced to dust. For me, it’s what I was hoping for from Choir of Babel and it’s great to have a whole album from this band that fully clicks. Compared to some of 20 Buck Spin’s other bands I haven’t seen Ruin Lust get quite as much attention, but they deserve it.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg