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Dark Ruin - The Settlement 2003 Self Released

Track Listing
1. War With Me
2. Distortion
3. Third World
4. Frontlines
5. Dark Ruin
6. Fallen
7. Down
8. All God's Children
9. Hellbent On Hatred
10. Origins Of A Deadly Disease
11. Grinding The Grain
12. Weeping Prophet
I'm not sure what to make of this whole New Wave Of American Heavy Metal scene, with so many metal-core bands crashing an already crowded party. With bands like Dying Fetus, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Lamb Of God forcing us all to understand math equations and jazz chords, I am really missing the days of old, when young, fresh bands like Death, Suffocation, and Benediction ruled the proverbial roost. In this day and age it is getting harder and harder to find a death metal band among all of the "extreme" acts. At the same time this year has been rather pleasant for great indy death acts. I've stumbled through the foliage and found groups like Spiral Madness and De Lirium's Order waiting in the wings, ready to take flight whenever the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately there isn't much room at the top for the good death acts, so we are left running amok in the mud, trying to locate those hidden treasures. Luckily, I found one at my local styling salon.

Yes, yours truly does care about personal hygiene. I found myself at the neighborhood salon getting my monthly "doo" when my hair stylist mentioned a local band called Dark Ruin. Maximum Metal did a feature on these guys a few months back, but dare I say I have never heard the group. She gave me a copy of their newest record, "The Settlement", and behold another death metal entry has been logged. Dark Ruin is a fine group of traditionalists hailing from Roanoke, Virginia. Their blend of deathy extremes is more of a European taste, one that folds precisely between the land of Konkhra and Bolt Thrower. One can even hear some semblance of Gorefest at times, struggling to break free completely from the hardcore elements that bind the band's sound in a tight delivery.

Vocalist Josh Cahoon is very much in the styling of Konkhra's Anders Lundemark, with a rough edge that borders on grind. The really great thing about these guys is their perfect chemistry together, really working like a tight cohesive unit through twelve tracks of traditional death metal. Gone are the frequent blast beats and math grooves, replaced by a genuine love for the simpler, ear friendly grooves of old. One can find hints of Pantera and Fear Factory, but for the most part Dark Ruin stay in the mid-80s, capturing a sound that many have forgotten, or just simply ignored. At times the band add in some cleaner vocals to add a bit more character and dimension to a "cornered" death sound. With some cuts the band haven't forgotten the soaring leads that made the 80s famous, with Moran and Dunagan combining to add some much needed melody at times.

There is really no need to analyze the songs in detail, let's just say that anyone who enjoys the works of Unleashed, Konkhra, Gorefest, Bolt Thrower, or early roots death metal should enjoy Dark Ruin. Their brand of "extreme" metal fits my traditional needs more so than the weekly Headbanger's Ball guests. This band seems to have a clear understanding of the basic fundamentals needed to create enjoyable music. Cheers to the old, and a tall glass raised for "The Settlement". Coming to a town near you...


--EC 11.23.04
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



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REVIEWER DATE
The SettlementDark Ruin
2003
Eric Compton11/23/2004


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