South-West England metal trio, Ruina, started life as a solo project of their multi-instrumentalist, Harv Lake, but evolved into a full band in time for 2020’s Nemesis EP. Last year’s A Hundred Voices EP consolidated their reputation and saw them hit the road with Tyneside metalcore upstarts, Rituals. Now, they have their third record in as many years and another opportunity to enhance their status. At Scream Blast Repeat, we often wonder whether to bother with metalcore music, but Ruina are a reason why we should not abandon it. As the Sky Begins to Break is a thrilling experience that will leave you with a stronger physique and an unbreakable mentality.
England has no shortage of metalcore bands in the American mould of Killswitch Engage and too few from the Hatebreed school of resilience. Ruina gravitate towards the former, but they love their drop-tuned thrash metal as much as their breakdown riffs. Opener, ‘Ash & Fire’, thrives on high tempo drums and violent palm-muted rhythms that will excite the Machine Head fanbase as much as Bullet for My Valentine’s followers. Make no mistake – this is a bruising sonic experience with no desire to venture off into the anodyne pop-punk choruses that most of their contemporaries embrace. Listen how Harv Lake and Chris Owens alternate between clean and harsh vocals in the opening verse before the more aggressive approach dominates the microphone. Of course, they treat you to a breakdown, and it’s one that will give you the energy to upend a row of restaurant tables like the rugby-playing toffs of Oxford’s notorious Bullingdon club. Scotland’s Bleed from Within are the best reference point for the power and purpose of Ruina’s sound. This is groove metal coated in the searing underdog insurgency of metalcore’s second wave.
Eleven minutes is not long enough to demonstrate the true potency of Ruina’s confidence, but that only leaves you wanting more from EP number three. ‘The Truth’ will crack window screens like a Siberian freeze. Cast your mind back to those MTV2 videos of the early 2000s where the vocalist’s might could shatter glass with the ferocity of his voice – this is what Chris Owens aims for here. Behind him is a drummer who fires his double-kick patterns with the precision of a welder. Closing track, ‘Wavebreaker’, will help you smash the way out of the metaphorical box imposed on you by others. Chunky thrash down-picking is the order of the day here before Lake throws in a Megadeth teaser at the end to show you what ‘Holy Wars’ could sound like in an alternative tuning. “Moving forward, I’ll make it on my own,” is the defiant message.
Ruina are at the verge of defining who they are. How they structure a full-length record and balance out their chunky neo-thrash with songs of greater variation and depth will be the challenge that makes or breaks them in the future. On the evidence here, they should have no problems moving forward on their own like the wave-breakers they want to be.
Release Date: 30/09/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Ash & Fire, Wavebreaker
Suggested Further Listening: The Five Hundred – A World on Fire (2021), Bleed from Within – Fracture (2020), Rituals – Awake EP (2021)