CHUGCORE EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Desolate – Ruiners [EP/2015]


Artist: Desolate 

Album: Ruiners – EP


Your life is defined by a series of unexplainable urges. Looking back on it now, it started when you were young: while other children frolicked outside, embracing wildlife and chasing after animals in their backyards, you watched from a distance, devising ways to capture them for much more nefarious means. As you grew, your misanthropy grew with you, expanding from enervated aggravation to a full-blown disgust at the society surrounding you.

It was then when you began to hear voices.

At first dim and transient, they grew into roars, blocking out any and all noise from outside. They urged you to steal, entrap, kidnap and—ultimately—kill. At first you didn’t struggle in keeping them quiet, but as the days added up, your sanity began to bend under the weight of your insidious urges—until one day, it snapped. Like a red-hot scepter jabbed into the sulci of your brain, Ruiners breaks into your mind and takes control of your body. This crushing Corning quartet’s debut release is an educated, aggressive series of anthemic nu-metalcore hits following the actions of America’s most renowned serial killers. By the time “Victims” is through, that’s just what you’ll be—a helpless pawn controlled and condemned to commit the most unimaginable crimes known to man.

If you had to witness the most infamous killers commit their grisly crimes, what do you think would be playing in the background? If you weren’t sure before hearing about Desolate, you will be afterwards. Ruiners is an incredible combination of catchy, creative nu-metal riffing and bold-faced, belligerent brutality that is unlike anything currently gracing the heavy music scene. Forged over a framework of punchy percussion, each track on Desolate’s debut is a hard-hitting anthem that will have you killing to hear more. Tracks like the lead single, “Manson,” or the gruesome “Gein” feature barbaric drumming that bounces hither and to like a rubber ball coated in WD-40. Even while Desolate’s drumming opts for a minimalist atmosphere with sparse moments of technicality and a sparing use of fills, it serves as a stellar scaffold for bassist Jack Keach to crush the listener. Keach coats every solid snare crack and booming bass drum thud with a tremendous layer of grime. The bouncy breakdown in the opening minute of “Manson” is an excellent example, as is the driving, jarring nu-metallic onslaught within “Dahmer.” Keach showcases his bass work in a subtle but sinister light, only become aggressive and audible where an extra layer of grime is needed to flood the listener’s lungs. Otherwise, Keach lays low beneath the brilliant riffs and grooves of guitarists Tyler Walde and Tim Olszowy. Walde and Olszowy are the sharp, skin-peeling blade that each serial-killer-inspired song cuts deep with: whether it’s the brash, brutal chugs on “Manson” and “JWG” or the crafty riff work on “Victims.” Walde and Olszowy are the complex, churning answer to the Spartan nature of Desolate’s minimalist bass and percussive aspects, giving the band a full-bodied instrumental dynamic.

Where Desolate’s instrumentation might be the weapon, the band’s vocal element is the one behind the gun or holding the blade. Enter frontman Cody Blencowe, your new favorite vocalist. Blencowe is every ounce the frontman that Desolate needed to make Ruiners a convincing and comprehensively evil release. From the first bitter shouts of “Gein,” Blencowe takes center stage and whisks away the listener’s attention—if not with his gritty, shrill scream, with his repulsive, revolting lyrics. Blencowe’s voice aligns itself somewhere between Eavesdropper’s Logan Beaver and Sworn In’s Tyler Dennen, making ample use of a garish, harsh yell that occasionally forays into blistering shrieks or bold low growls. His similarities to Beaver are brilliantly displayed in “Manson,” where his shouts transition into and out of a special appearance by the Eavesdropper himself. However, his performances on “Dahmer,” and especially on “Victims” remain his strongest, excellently showcasing his range, stamina and excellent syllabic candor. Here, his lyrics reinforce the themes in his lyrics—death, anxiety, paranoia and of course, hatred. Ruiners’ lyrical aspect is one of the most rewarding aspects of the EP, as every track (especially the catchy refrain in “JWG”) highlights some degree of research into the killer that serves as the song’a subject matter. This makes each moment that much more poignant, and reflects positively on the EP as a careful, educated and energetic display of malevolence.

Desolate’s instrumentation and vocal elements work as one syncopated attack, severing the frontal lobe from the listener’s brain, replacing it with an urge to give into to their most primal urges—to kill, lest they be killed. Ruiners is an energetic shot of adrenaline into the comatose corpse of regurgitated, irreverent nu-metalcore. Boldly joining the ranks of Eavesdropper, Deviant and other juggernauts within the genre, this quartet are as brilliant as they are barbaric, and as energetic as they are evil. With catchy hits like “JWG” and “Manson” alongside masterful journeys through dissonance and devastation (“Victims,” I’m looking at you), Desolate have prodigally joined heavy music’s highest echelon. Even the eerie (and much needed) interlude, “[Redacted]” is strategically placed to enable the listener to enjoy Ruiners in it’s entirety without becoming overwhelmed—or, after lyrics like those in “Gein,” sick to their stomach.

After you were sent to a cell to rot, everyone claimed “there was always something off about that kid.” But in reality, even the most normal, socially functioning individual would have gone insane after hearing the voices you heard—the voices that were instilled by Desolate’s debut release, Ruiners. Desolate are dynamic and crafty enough to make any man a murderer—so remember this before you press play:

Fear yourself more than anyone you meet.



For Fans Of: Sworn In, We Have Been Compromised, Deviant, Eavesdropper

By: Connor Welsh