Greek hardcore quartet, Blame Kandinsky, released their debut album in 2017 and used the global lockdowns of 2020 to prepare their sophomore effort. Like many, they had the rare luxury of time to hone their craft, but they made sure to listen to every Botch and Dillinger Escape Plan record in their possession while they observed the tumult of our present era like spectators of a world drama. They play a hybrid of mathcore and melodic hardcore and soundtrack the neurosis you probably felt during those quarantine days of inertia when relationships failed, love died, and obsessions festered. If they capped Eclectic Ruiner at thirty-five minutes and slimmed it down to nine tracks, we’d be talking about a comfortable album of the year contender.
The musicianship on this record is nothing short of stunning. Marios Samaris’ imaginative guitar work can rival the pioneering experimentation of Voivod’s Killing Technology era in the late 1980s, but his rough edges and violent dagger thrusts are straight from the Dillinger Escape Plan school of complexity. Vocalist, Stratos Isaakidis, is a man with a heavy heart and a tragic air of despair. His strained-throat screams agonise like an incapacitated prisoner left in the wild for the alligators to eat. You can hear clear punk foundations to the music on ‘Complicit’ but with jazz chords and a wider range of dynamics. Converge are a big influence, yet the way they incorporate a discarnate post-rock contemplation at the mid-way point suggests they have more in their armour than just rage. If only they explored this more often.
You’ll have no trouble lapping up the mathcore frenzy of ‘Ruined’ or the raw technical brilliance of ‘Gertrude’. The former is a hardcore punk song injected with a hyper-aggression that can rival Pupil Slicer. How does the guitarist incorporate so many scale-fills on the latter when the band switch from a murderous tempo to an avant-garde doom dirge? The recent album from Dutch quintet, Throwing Bricks, does something similar. You can hear the supreme confidence of the rhythm section as the album progresses. The songs become longer, the twists become contortions, the musical patterns defy gravity by staying up in the air for so long. ‘Chasten’ mixes screeching guitars with a punk rock swagger and the hysteria of the armed-conflict survivor who can no longer hold in his PTSD symptoms. Blame Kandinsky are not content to paint the canvass when they can stain it with their own blood and bodily fluids.
Unfortunately, like the recent album from Implore, the band have no perception of time. This means the forty-minutes of relentless rage and lightning-fast complexity turn into an unwanted test of your stamina. Your eyes will roll when you see that the songs are longer in the final third. Closing track, ‘Ego.’, is no doubt enjoyable on its own, but it only reminds you of the spectre of fatigue waiting to cast you down before the finish line. Blame Kandinsky could chop at least three of the bruisers from this album or replace them with experimental compositions to act as palette cleansers for the longer fight ahead. This has the potential to make repeat listening a chore rather than a choice.
The music pulsates with adrenaline on Eclectic Ruiner, and its visceral qualities are undisputed, but it needs the occasional water-filling station along the way to keep you in the race. You’ll feel invincible at the beginning but incontinent at the end.
Release Date: 02/12/2022
Record Label: Venerate Industries
Standout tracks: Vague, Ruined, Gertrude
Suggested Further Listening: Implore – The Burden of Existence (2022), Eunoia – Psyop of the Year (2022), Anna Sage – Anna Sage (2022)