Album review: My Ruin | The Sacred Mood

My Ruin The Sacred MoodOur verdict: 5/5
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My Ruin’s heaviosity has never been in question. 1999 debut album Speak & Destroy made that clear in it’s Dean Koontz quoting prologue: “The musicians began to tune up, though it seemed a pointless exercise, considering the type of music they were going to play.” The album laid the foundations for My Ruin’s unique and punishing sound, foregrounding Tairrie B’s intense and brooding spoken word passages alongside her full-throated metallic roar, down-tuned riffs that pushed the red line, and a pummeling rhythm section.

The band’s 2000 sophomore LP, A Prayer Under Pressure Of Violent Anguish, saw My Ruin’s craft develop exponentially, introducing a more consistent and organic sound. Also added to the intoxicating mix were humungous grooves and rock n’ roll dynamics that gave the group a new found sense of depth and texture. So where are My Ruin now, 14 years, thousands of touring miles, seven studio albums, some EPs and one full-on shafting by a record label later?

Their singular, recognisable traits remain a full part of the band’s sound in 2013, but there is also welcome evolution that makes The Sacred Mood a standout album of the year. The LP is a lean, focused beast, with not a minute wasted. Opening track, Monolith of Wrath, aptly sets the scene in sonics and in sentiment. The song’s staccato rhythm builds a taught, festering ball of pent-up rage that explodes into a thundering riff, Tairrie B confronting us head-on with the “moonless midnight of my mind.” The track works itself into a frenzy before a stunning breakdown mid-song, capped with a searing solo from Mick Murphy.

Moriendo Renascor then picks up the pace, its fuzzed up riff driving the album forward, accompanied by an enigmatic lyric about death and rebirth – a theme that underpins much of The Sacred Mood. It’s done and dusted in under four minutes, but not before Murphy has left us agape once more at his dextrous way with a fretboard. Surely the greatest song title of the decade follows in God Is A Girl With A Butcher Knife. The guitar lines accompanying the verse wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on the Sunset Strip circa 1987, providing the song with a classic slant (and hinting at some of the wider sonic pallette that messrs Murphy and Murphy have absorbed in their lifetimes.) The lyric alludes to a life after death, albeit an artistic one, rather than a literal or religious one. The song feels primed and ready to become a live favourite.

Two album highlights follow in Heretic Dreams and Honey Of The Human Soul. Heretic’s ominous, rolling drum pattern opens up into a muddy mid-tempo riff and becomes a dynamic, stop-start monster of a track. It’s as thrilling as it is brutal. Honey brings the groove back with abundance, and over it Tairrie B may be singing of “scars sung in lullabies”, but the extraordinary lacerating vocal tells you all you need to know about them – they won’t be sending your kids to sleep any time soon.

Insomniac Moon feels like the album’s creeping, atmospheric centrepiece. Opening with the sound of a thousand Cicadas chirruping in the undergrowth, you can just about feel the baking heat of Knoxville, Tennessee. Mick Murphy’s guitar silences the tumult, coming on like the evil twin of Tony Iommi. Tairrie’s liquorice-like spoken vocal ramps up the temperature, as Murphy’s guitar squalls melodically in the background, providing further gnarly textures. It’s a beautifully nuanced opening that develops into a gothic chorus of epic proportion. It’s destined to be a metal classic in years to come.

My RuinHour Of The Wolf then shifts gear and picks up a welcome pace, galloping through its three minute running time like the titular hound. Del Riche is described by the band themselves as the sequel to Vultures from their 2011 opus A Southern Revelation, confrontational and cathartic.

The Harsh Light of Day then finally invokes the spirit of Lady Lazarus, as Tairrie B asks her to “forgive my restless mind, from ashes I will rise and eat my enemies like air.” And in that one line, the thread that runs through the entirety of The Sacred Mood could be surmised. Darkness, death and despair may come to you, fill your world with demons and turn you inside out, but for those so inclined, they can be used as muse, muscle and might.

The album closes with the deepest, darkest, murkiest cover of Elvis Presley’s Trouble that will have ever, well, troubled you. It feels like the perfect kiss off, though: “Cause I’m evil. My middle name is misery. That’s what I said. Well I’m evil, so don’t you mess around with me.”

You have been warned.

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