Review Summary: A surprisingly solid technical death metal album.
Man JFAC has come a long way. It didn't hit me until my 2nd or 3rd listen of Ruination just how far this band has come. They have jumped leaps and bounds ahead of their 2005 Doom EP, which started circulating through myspace. JFAC ultimately became one of the faces of deathcore. Their major label debut Genesis saw them breaking away from their deathcore roots. Which, while it was a step in the right direction, the album itself was very bland and generic sounding. Ruination picks up where Genesis left off, in the sense that JFAC is still distancing itself from deathcore.
First off, this album is undeniably technical death metal. Though not mind blowing in it's technicality. This album is very straight forward in it's delivery. A band that instantly popped into my head when thinking of this style of technical death metal, was Decapitated. This album has that "Decapitated" feel to it, so much so that if it weren't for Jonny Davy's stand out vocals, it would be hard to distinguish the two in some occasions.
Though naturally one would point out that JFAC has gone through several line-up changes since it's first incarnation, and this is most likely why they sound so different. While this is true, and new comers Al Glassman (Despised Icon; Guitar), and Jon "The Charn" Rice (Drums) certainly bring something new to the table, the band overall has matured. The first noticeable difference, is there is virtually no pig squeals. Gone are the days of Jonny Davy relying on them like a crutch. Though to be fair, he had already been moving away from using them, however there were still some featured on Genesis. Returning guitarist Bobby Thompson has matured as well. Brent Riggs' bass still isn't audible, which isn't surprising for death metal.
One of the few stand outs from Genesis, was the lyrics. Instead of typical death metal themes (I.E. gore, death etc) JFAC chose to write more about religion, and the apocalypse (not very unique, I know). Genesis was in a nut shell about the birth of the anti Christ, and how he becomes this huge politician and ultimately takes over the world via the VeriChip (or, the "mark of the beast"). Ruination, while not a concept album like Genesis, still follows similar topics. Ruination's topic are more political than anything else. Ranging from human rights in North Korea to the use of torture in American military tactics.
Despite being technical death metal at it's core, Ruination still exhibits influences from various different genres. For instance, the solo at the end of "March To Global Enslavement" is clearly melodeath. Which, while it is short and not amazingly mind blowing, it is played flawlessly, and sounds very crisp and refined. Which is generally how the album is overall. It's not terribly creative, but what it does, is done right almost to perfection most of the time. Another example of this, would be the solo midway through "Unfurling A Darkened Gospel". Again, while not terribly creative, it's played well, and also showcases power metal influence. Also on "Unfurling A Darkened Gospel" is a short breakdown at the end of the song. It doesn't have the core band breakdown feel to it, but it does feel misplaced. At the beginning of "Ruination", there's almost an ambient black metal sound going for it.
One of my few complaints, is the album burns out through the second portion. The last track, "Ruination" is a good example of this. While it does serve as a good ending track (slower nature songs generally are), it still feels tame in comparison to the rest of the album.
Also, while the production is very good, there's a few occasions where it's almost as if the vocals and guitar are fighting to grab your attention. It feels as if they are clashing, and sounds clunky and unorganized. The ambient effects may potentially be viewed as overkill as well. They really aren't needed, but they aren't very abundant, and at least to me, seem to work for the most part (at the beginning of "Regurgitated Disinformation" for example).
The straight forward nature may also potentially be a turn off. Ruination has no intros/outros, or instrumentals for that matter. Aside from the title track, this album does not slow down. The sheer brutality versus technicality may be another deal breaker as well. If, for instance you like to have your face melted by mind blowing technically (Necrophagist, for instance), this may not be your cup of tea. If you prefer a band like Decapitated, this album is right up your alley. Though, let's face it, JFAC is no Decapitated.
When it all comes down to it Ruination is undoubtedly a step up from Genesis. A surprising turnaround from a once hated deathcore band. JFAC has certainly proven to be one of those bands that learns from their mistakes.
-A huge step for the band
-A very solid and consistent technical death metal album
-While "solid", it's still not "amazing".
-Some may be put off by the straight forward nature, and clean production.
"Regurgitated Disinformation" - Best track on the album
"March To Global Enslavement"
"Unfurling A Darkened Gospel"