Made Out of Babies, The Ruiner
When I first got my hands on Made Out of Babies' sophomore effort, Coward, I couldn't say enough good about it. I loved (and continue to love) that album. I still think it's one of the most frightening records I've ever heard. It's brutal, it's ugly, it's engaging, and it's scary. I can remember thinking to myself, There's no way they'll be able to top this with their next release.
I am pleased to announce that I was full of it.
MOoB's newest disc is an even more focused, driven aural assault than their last two albums were. It's got every bit of the hideous power that characterized their first two releases, while having a more streamlined approach, a better handle on what exactly they want to do with this disc. However, don't think this doesn't sound every bit as much like Made Out of Babies as their other two releases do - all of their signature sounds are there, from the growly detuned guitars to the aggressive drumming to the loud, prominent bass to the inimitable creepiness that is vocalist Julie Christmas' voice. If anything, the interplay between bandmembers seems more fluid, more natural; you can tell this is a group that has been playing together for a few years now, and it reflects in the way they play off one another.
It hits hard from the beginning, with syncopated guitar noises and Christmas' trademark disgusting growl, erupting into a brutal, devastating attack on everything you expect from a rock and roll band. This is an album that refuses to conform, even to the standards they created for their first two discs. It's got a more melodic focus, while still being every bit as unfriendly as before.
As per usual with a MOoB release, it's Christmas who reigns supreme in center stage for the bulk of The Ruiner. Her multiple vocal personalities all return to the mix, with even more interaction between her eerie singing voice and harsh, guttural grunts. She purposely veers off tune in parts, making it that much more disconcerting. She can still sing in that sweet, little girl voice, which disappears in the face of the tempest of her growl. She screams and she cries and she bellows and she absolutely captivates me while simultaneously scaring the crap out of me.
But the rest of the band is better than ever as well. They're pushing to more progressive territories, playing with complex time signatures and song structures, while still being more brutal than most supposed metal bands could ever dream of. And the production is much tighter this time around, making the album a more harrowing experience. It doesn't feel as muffled and sanitized; this is raw, this is unfriendly, this is not the sort of thing you play when your mother is in the car with you.
But I can't stress enough just how good this album is. And I really don't think it's because I set my hopes high and I'm simply justifying my love for this disc. I expected it to be less than its predecessor, not the terrifying progression into desolate, musical hells that we are treated to through this entire record.
Lyrically, it's much more focused and guided than their last two efforts. Most of the lyrics on Coward seemed almost like a tribute to Dadaism, with no sense to be had in any way, shape, or form. On the other hand, The Ruiner has a sense of direction, has a voice to be heard and a story to be told - adding to enhance the record as a whole.
Tracks to catch: Album-opener 'Cooker' is a blisteringly progressive and ugly starting note, setting the tone for the rest of the disc. 'Invisible Ink' sees Christmas singing some of her most melodic music to date, which serves to augment the creepiness that pervades the song. 'Bunny Boots' has some of the most scathing, hideous screams committed to CD, and the lyric 'Each time you say it louder and more boring' is only half right - it's plenty loud, but miles from boring. 'Peew' captures the essence of Coward's crown jewel, 'Gunt', and will haunt you long after the disc stops spinning.
As scathing, as biting, as acerbic and fugly as this album is, I can't in good nature give it a perfect score, because it will scare most listeners away - but that's true of everything Made Out of Babies does. (Their name alone serves to scare away the majority of people, I imagine.) The best way I can describe MOoB's music is how singer Julie Christmas' mother described it - 'I really like it, but it makes me want to punch things'. Made Out of Babies is musical violence, flayed and put on display, gory and oozing. And did I mention The Ruiner is absolutely brilliant?