Tasmanian devils? Cliche. However, it has to be said that this Aussie black-death metal hybrid from Hobart, Tasmania have their style down to such fierce revolutions one can safely assume it's something in the air of their native land. These days, RUINS has expanded beyond the principal duo of Alex Pope (affiliated with a ton of bands including DEATHBED CONVERSION, EVIL DEAD and MARPY MPLY) and blast beating maniac Dave Haley (formerly of THE AMENTA). Officially designating their touring ensemble Kai Summers and Dave Haley's brother, Joe as full-fledged band members, RUINS records their fourth full-length as a quartet. The results are cleaner and often expansive if no less vicious.
No longer finding the necessitation for legion facial paint, RUINS is a deadly force live in just their street clothes. Kudos to Pope and his obliteration crew for having the sense to rely on their powerful riffs onstage. With their latest album, "Place of No Pity", the official expansion in lineup heightens their songwriting by association.
A band that has previously played their crunching riffs like trump cards on recent works such as "Cauldron" and "Front the Final Foes", RUINS this time opens up not only their recording space to Joe Haley and Kai Summers, it appears the collective is taking strides towards richer elaboration. Still revealing their desire to hail EMPEROR, SATYRICON and DARKTHONE with grinding death metal overtures and more rat-a-tat beat squibs (as opposed to full-on triplicate thrusts), "Place of No Pity" is a hit for much of the ride until later succumbing to genre commonplaces and a grueling bass drum capture that drowns out the rest of the band.
At least the well-constructed progressions of the nine minute title track shows RUINS in an explorative mood, even going so far as to incorporate samples of the band's older song "Lightless", remixed by THE AMENTA. The song is also incorporated into "Death Lends the Ultimate Touch". "Place of No Pity" contains a brilliant sequence of hapless though affecting melody swings accented by Dave Haley's interchanging thrash and grind modes. They represent the most exotic and tasteful textures found in RUINS' augmented writing script. Prior to, "Inhabit the Twilight" and "A Lesson in Ruthlessness" pummel with only a few tender mercies to perceive beneath their blistering tenacity. However, the capacity of RUINS to dabble with an ENSLAVED and WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM mentality on "Winters Will" to enable decorative sequences between the existent hostilities exhibits unraveling grace and maturity. Wielding more than blunt objects of audile destruction inside their noisome hub, it's more than refreshing to see RUINS reaching for refinement.
While "Death Lends the Ultimate Touch" has a lot of great ideas inside of its prolonged eight minute running time, "Place of No Pity" and "Winters Will" are the album's hallmark moments. Unfortunately, the last third of the album seems more intent on drifting back to their foundations instead of capitalizing on its preceding lavishness. "Let Them Perish" will be a monster in a live setting, but on record, RUINS are going through the motions, opting for servitude to predictable chugging riffs and Dave Haley's smothering bass drum rivets. As talented as he is, there's no real need to turn up the capture of his blinding kick pedals, especially on "Merciless", where such cumbersome din bludgeons and annoys instead of accelerates.
"Oath" is mostly faster than the runoff of a fried egg, but there's no denying you feel like you've stumbled into an EMPEROR cover for much of the time. This until RUINS inserts a couple of opulent bridges and later, some disconcerting knocks, crashes and screams that gives the track a shivery sendoff.
A hair sloppy and trite in these final tracks after so much promise beforehand, "Place of No Pity" is what it is: a transitional record that yields plenty of optimism for RUINS' future. More focus on the superb songwriting elaboration and less emphasis in the mix how wired Dave Haley's ankles are, and this band will evolve into a genuine winner.