We live in an age with a seemingly endless supply of music. Any genre or style is readily available with little more than a couple clicks, much of it free of charge. However, though this increased online presence offers bands previously unthinkable levels of promotion, the relative ease of recording and advertising material has led to what some might describe as an oversupply of music. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with bands releasing work that they’re proud of, but the fact of the matter is that an influx of new material results in a much more difficult scene in which to distinguish oneself. To truly stand out in their genre or market of choice, a musical act must either be ludicrously talented or breathtakingly unique, a standard that leaves many hard-working and capable but overall unremarkable bands by the wayside—Ruinous is one of those bands.
Any critic will tell you that the most difficult things on which to convey an opinion are those that elicit no real reaction. I’ve listened to Graves of Ceaseless Death at least a dozen times over the past few weeks, but never once has it made me feel much of anything, positive or negative. Some tracks are quite good, such as the surprisingly solid 12-minute behemoth “Through Stygian Catacombs” and the short, thrashy “Ravenous Eternal,” while a few others are markedly sub-par, most notably the plodding and directionless “Procession of Ceaseless Sorrows.” However, other than a small handful of brushes with greatness, very little present here does anything to distinguish itself from the remainder of the old school death metal-inspired crop. I suppose it’s worth mentioning that the vocals are more guttural than those present in most similar bands, but this isn’t particularly helpful to Ruinous, as they are generally too loud in the mix and distract from the often above-average instrumentation.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Graves of Ceaseless Death is a bad album; in fact, by most standards, it’s pretty solid. With that being said, though, it simply does so little to distinguish itself from similar releases that I find it a difficult album about which to even formulate a coherent opinion. Taking their sound in a more thrash-oriented direction à la “Ravenous Eternal” and carving out a Revocation-esque niche would likely have produced better results for Ruinous, but the fact of the matter is that their style of choice has plenty of superior bands to offer. Hell, Gatecreeper’s Sonoran Depravation dropped just a few weeks ago, and it’s essentially a carbon copy of this album with better riffs and production. Ruinous are clearly capable of making more noteworthy material—the guitar work is solid, “Through Stygian Catacombs” boasts some memorable songwriting, and Matt Medeiros is, at the very least, a decent vocalist—but Graves of Ceaseless Death suffers greatly from being largely devoid of surprises or memorable moments and paling in comparison to many of its contemporaries.
If I had to sum this one up in a single word, it would be “competent.” If you’re looking for old school death metal, you could certainly do worse than Ruinous—the problem is, you could also do a whole a lot better.