Released: 2013, Self Release
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Here's a question to ponder: is it better to mellow as we get older, or to keep the fire in our belly lit, the blood quickening and the coals glowing? For some bands, the answer will always overwhelmingly and obviously be the latter. One such band is underground heavy rock legends My Ruin. They (and vocalist Tairrie B. Murphy in particular) have been known for their vigorous, fiery 'fuck you' music since their formation in 1999.
For the band's eighth studio album 'The Sacred Mood' they returned to Soundtrack Black Studio in East Tennessee, where they recorded 2011's 'A Southern Revelation', as well as re-engaging with that album's producer Joel Stooksbury. 'The Sacred Mood' was also given a digital-only release (as with their 2011 album). According to Tairrie B, issues with previous records labels meant that "much of the time, our albums were not given the proper promotion or distribution they deserved and our CDs were (and still are) very hard to find which became a real source of frustration and heartbreak for us for most of our career" (Gorgeous Freaks magazine, Issue 26), hence the digital release. For those of you that crave band merch, do not despair: a hardcover book detailing the creation of the album is due for release soon. Keep an eye on myruin.net for details.
The album opens in suitably urgent fashion with the 'Sabbath-on-steroids' groove of 'Monolith of Wrath', with its rage-filled lyrics and belligerent roars from Mrs. B. Mick Murphy's wailing guitar solo is also a crowning point.
The spectacular 'Moriendo Renascor' follows next, surely the 'original material' highlight of the album (of which more later). Latin for 'in death I am reborn', the song charges along on a darkly frantic beat, in the vein of Southern rock but sped up and tuned down. The deep, thick groove matches Tairrie B.'s amazing vocals perfectly, whilst the raggedly interwined hopelessness and hope in the lyrics ("spirits come and give us light, haunting hearts as black as night") encapsulate the entire album's ethos to a 'T'.
Mrs Murphy's well-known appreciation for Nick Cave's work, plus her earlier incarnation as a rapper have naturally resulted in a love of spoken words throughout the band's songs (as well as a side project, The LVRS). Thus, 'The Sacred Mood' contains spoken word verses in the likes of the extraordinarily titled 'God Is a Girl With a Butcher Knife', with its squealing guitar intro, autobiographical and vaguely blasphemous lyrics; the Tennessee-drenched, ominous tone of 'Insomniac Moon' and the tale of a former friend's betrayal in the fiercely scornful 'Del Riche', which contains not only some of the best lyrics on the album ("beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone"), but also hands down the best of Tairrie B.'s screams (at the end of the above couplet).
Musically the album is abundantly strong, due to both the outstanding production and the talents of guitarist/drummer Mick Murphy and Argentinian bassist Luciano Ferrea. Muphy's guitar solos, whilst applied sparingly, are always devastatingly effective, while Ferrea's deep, doomy bass is the chugging groove foundation upopn which every song is built. For her part, Tairrire B. is in blistering form; her alternately screamed, crooned and spoken word vocals often sound as if they are being ripped from her: painful but cathartic, neccessary.
'The Sacred Mood' is a less blind-rage-filled album than 'a Southern Revelation', which was fuelled by label issues and so on, and was brimming with bitterness and ferocity at the 'business' of music. 'Sacred', whilst still containing the occasional pot-shot at others (the aforementioned 'Del Riche', and the anti-organised religion 'Heretic Dreams', containing the brilliantly dismissive line "religion, just like superstition, is the weed that strangles reason"), refers more to personal concerns: insomnia, depression, nightmares and so on. It is a more reflective, introspective album in that sense.
...All of which makes the band's choice of album closer more of a surprise. A storming, blazing cover of Elvis Presley's 'Trouble' (the OTHER highlight of this album) sees Tairrie B. pulling out all the stops in a song that almost seems to have been written for her. "Cos I'm eeeeeeevil, my middle name is misery", she hollers over a proper, old-fashioned Sixties bluesy ambush. The song brings the album to an astonishing "wow!" ending that leaves the listener beaming incredulously and slightly breathless.
In 'The Sacred Mood' My Ruin have created a heavy rock masterpiece. Tinged with doom, dusted with Southern rock and liberally doused with metal, this is an album that will undoubtedly feature in 'Best Of' lists for many years to come. Oh, and that earlier question: will (or should) My Ruin ever mellow? Will they fuck. As Mrs Murphy herself growls in the closing moments of the album: "I'm evil...evil...so don't you mess around with me". As statements of intent go, they don't get much clearer than that.
Review by Melanie Brehaut