“I had a dream, which was not all a dream”!
Ruins of Marianas Rest starts with a monologue that moves you out into space. One that Carach Angren could not have done better. And – truly – the tune and story also keep you hostage to all sorts of horrors.
Only here, we have troubles of the mind that are at stake. Internalized terrors that somehow surface, when you least expect them. And not miscellaneous war crimes, or other horrifying dark urges.
But first and foremost, my question was: Where in Hel’s name do these solemnly marching metal sounds emerge from all of a sudden? Because Ruins really has that subtle quality to retain your attention. On a sound and concept that the RMR scout squad should have detected already before. But didn’t for some reason.
Ruins sports this meaty mix of doom-laden Melodic Death Metal, of trademark Insomnium, and the Black Metal horrors of Darkend. A juicy piece of Extreme Metal that you need to seek long and hard for. Not because it is so special and was never heard before. But because the band delivers pretty much everything they do in pristine quality.
Quite unsurprisingly, Marianas Rest joined this world in 2013 in Finland and released a first full-length record – Horror Vacui – in 2016. In other words, they have taken their sweet time to get new material out into the open, with their sophomore album Ruins released only in this Year of the Dark Lord 2019. There is nothing wrong with this, by the way. And sometimes it is – frankly – a good thing for any band to give their second album some time to mature.
The band’s overall sound anchors itself firmly in the Scandinavian Extreme Metal scene. And hardly out of the gate, they go full steam ahead on them dark and ominous waves of typical Melodic Death Metal. A brand – however – that flounders dangerously close to what the aforementioned Insomnium did in the past.
And similarities continue to abound.
Kinda mysteriously, with sounds and voices we heard before. And – lo and behold – you’ll indeed find Niilo Sevänen reciting the poem on The Spiral. Let me also point out the skillful use of the cello on parts of Ruins. This instrument is quite often used in strained pieces of Extreme Metal, where some mental stress is the overarching theme. Like – for example – in Zornheym’s 2016 video, where the cello so aptly demonstrates the distress of the protagonist.
It is also interesting to see how Marianas Rest continually and freely use different styles to suit the level of doom and desolation that the theme currently requires. The full-blown change to tremolo-laden Black Metal in Hole in Nothing surely serves as a good example. Also, the change from a meaty Doom and Melodic Death Metal style to a more austere brand further down the track list is remarkable. Not quite at a bare-bone level My Silent Wake usually occupies, but it is getting close.
And all that melancholy to describe the destruction of a mind until death shall part us. This even beats the tear-drenched soundscapes Vanha usually likes to usurp. And that should tell us something.
Whilst there is nothing much amiss in turns of the really artful mix and a sturdy mastering effort, the band nonetheless went relatively far in copying known sounds and directions. And the jury really could not decide, if ‘too far’ should have been the expression used. So, in this light, I do miss a certain sense of innovation in all this blackened goodness. Also and towards the end, some filler material starts to creep in. And this lends some of the tracks a length that they really should not have.
To wrap this up, Marianas Rest artfully used different styles and flavors around Death and Black Metal to drive a theme so full of desperation, sometimes I had to look outside. To see if the sun still shone, or if something more sinister all of a sudden took over. Something you do not want to face during your day, and even less at night.
If you fancy doom in all its dreary facets Extreme Metal has to offer, then this album is for you. But make sure you keep the windows open, once you listen to the record. Lest you risk falling prey to this tsunami of melancholy that Marianas Rest so relentlessly unleash on you.
So, by the unholy Metal Cow of Doom, Ruins so far occupies that lofty peak of the first real Extreme Metal surprise of 2019. And – I daresay – other Extreme Metal outfits will have their sweet time to try and topple this record from the perch it currently occupies. The rest of this year will surely tell.