Rest Among Ruins – Fugue
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Considering the amount of diversity we have in the Metal genre, it is surprising to note the reluctance of a fan to embrace something new that comes along. This diversity is definitely an indication of the broad-mindedness of the community, yet the war between the new and the old school, the extreme and the progressive, the brutal and the melodic, remains immortal. However, every once in a while, there comes an album that paradoxically merges the polarities between them. Rest Among Ruins latest album Fugue is undoubtedly one of them.
Rest Among Ruins is a progressive Metal band from Baltimore. They are a studio band consisting of Mike Semesky (Raunchy) on vocals, rhythm guitars and bass, ably supported by Ben Schmitz on lead guitar and Geoff Palmer on drums.
Rest Among Ruins are difficult to be categorized into a single genre. They break all stereotypes associated with a modern Metal band and at some points can be barely classified as “Metal”. However, the end product that they create is nothing short of brilliant.
Fugue is a concept album about a patient Semesky met while working in a psychiatric hospital before getting into music. It takes you along on a traumatic journey of the protagonist and totally consumes you as you listen to the album. The sound of the album is a moody shapeshifter alternating between melody and aggression throughout the length of the album. The way Mike Semesky’s pop-punk vocals give way to his monstrous volcanic growls, it makes it hard to believe that it is the same person on vocals. The music too has a lot of twist and turns and a rich texture that demands undeviating attention from the listener.
The album starts off the proceedings with the melodic yet aggressive opener “Beyond The Storm”. It has a stop-start groove at the base over which Schmitz weaves in short but beautifully melodic passages showing off his technical wizardry on the guitars. Palmer is precise with his drum work, matching the djenty stop-start rhythms and inserting some kickass fills to give birth to a nice groove laden syncopated structure. The song has an interesting breakdown midway followed by a nice crispy solo. Semesky’s trademark growls and clean vocals round up this strong opener.
Most of the songs on this album like “Before You Speak”, “Bled Letter” and “Everyone’s Glowing Home”, follow this pattern of creating a djenty foundation laced with entangled guitar lines and powering through with a mix of growls and clean vocals. However tracks like “Siren City” twist the album to an entirely different direction as it sheds away its djenty skin for an atmospheric and a spacey tone. The rhythms provide a heavy base over which Semesky’s soulful clean vocals glide beautifully. Similarly, “In Focus” is another track that would make you float over its ambient guitar lines before hitting you with an epic chorus. Midway, you are dragged down to the depths of hell by a creepy violin arrangement before being lifted again by the exploding chorus. It takes you by surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed this roller coaster ride.
“Reach The Edge” features Aleka Farha and both Semesky and Farha complement each other beautifully. Farha powers through with her strong vocals backed by Semesky’s monstrous growls. Overall, the track is a catchy mix of pop melodies and metal aggression.
“Guide My Way” and “Stranded In The Balcony” pack a punch with intense groove laden passages coated with exquisitely crafted guitar lines. Schmitz is very impressive throughout the album carving out artsy and melodic guitar parts over the djenty foundation. Palmer shows finesse in his work behind the kit with his precise razor sharp hits re-enforcing the fact that you don’t need to pound away relentlessly with blast beats to deliver a strong performance. The band mixes up the compositions well and avoid being repetitive. They are not afraid to trade away belligerence for melancholy and do it in style with beautifully written instrumental passages and vocals. The title track “Fugue” transcends the boundaries of metal for most part, shying away from the distorted riffage but explodes to an epic ending to the album.
Rest Among Ruins delivers a sound that has a lot going on at every moment but the production makes sure that the listener does not miss anything. They deliver a unique sound, clearly differentiating themselves from the crowd of countless modern progressive bands that we witness these days. Fugue may take time to become accepted by the obstinate metal fan, but that’s their loss. They will miss out on this fabulous piece of work which may define the future direction of this genre.
Recommended Tracks: “Beyond The Storm”, “Siren City”, “Stranded In The Balcony”