There are no surprises to be had on this Victory Records outfit's sophomore release, but there's a lot to be said for a band with all the right influences who dish them out with their own gusto.
They look like Hatebreed on the inset of their CD cover, but Arise and Ruin are proud practitioners of heavy noise on The Final Dawn. Joining part of an uprising of metal bands who defy falling in with the popular scenes, bringing challenging, accomplished music to new listeners instead, the five-piece’s sophomore release, and first for Victory Records, is one that carefully handpicks its reference points from the current underground climate, boils them up, and then dishes them out with fanboy gusto.
Arise and Ruin have already shared a stage with similar high-profile acts including Between the Buried & Me and the Red Chord. Their record’s greatest single influence is sourced from free-thinking grindcore revivalists Pig Destroyer. Ryan Bauchman’s psychotic vocal performance in particular evokes JR Hayes. The riffs are a complex and swift pummel to the gut, eschewing the gurgling, toneless rumble that most metalcore bands so lovingly rely on.
The songwriting sticks doggedly to fairly typical metal fare, emphasizing inner fortitude against adversary, personified by a recurring theme of riding into battle, as suggested by the horses on the cover, and translated into rather unnecessary pseudo-philosophical gibberish (“Solidarity amongst man is crucial for survival”). But since their delivery borders on indistinguishable, with them also adopting their genre’s convenient penchant for cramming syllables everywhere with no respect for phrase, they have a place as part of the assault. Imagine blood splattered across a wall and you’re not far off. Most importantly, Arise and Ruin’s songs are vehicles for a spectrum of red-hot emotion. Words like “strong”, “anger” and “war” pop up constantly in the barrage.
Instrumental prowess and brazen workouts are firm favorites. The title track has a tremendously bowel-shaking noise breakdown reminiscent of Boris. “Bound My Blood” starts as straight-ahead grindcore, then lurches into a breakdown-riddled, doom metal-infused wrap-up. Derek Prince-Cox’s tireless drumming keeps the relatively melodic “End of the Road” in a corkscrew, and his skin-bashing chaos is complemented by a fleeting metallic riff that brings out ideal balance. Lead six-stringer Brent Munger’s sharp fretwork cuts instinctively through the harsh, precise cacophony that is “Amidst Devils”, making use of another great guitar harmony. What follows is “Unbound”, a cut that reaches straight for Napalm Death’s old-school records as key inspiration in its first minute, before breaking into yet another throbbing, atonal breakdown.
Each track’s structure is predictably rigid for a group of their ilk, coming up through the metal underground. A really, really fast beginning grabs attention, and uses a windmilling breakdown as a go-between for melodic, chest-beating climaxes rather akin to Norse battle-meta-lers Amon Amarth. That’s the setup, the norm, and Arise and Ruin take special care not to step away from it on The Final Dawn. As this is a solid piece of work, we can be happy with that. They still have time to work out their style, after all, on future releases. This is easily enjoyed for the charging, intelligent display of power it is.
The record’s best flash comes on “Pale Horse”, when the lead guitar breaks itself off from the mother-ship and into a transcendent solo, over a blood-drenched background of hammering chords. It captures the mood perfectly, and makes you want to stick your fist in the air. Bauchman nobly saves his last push for the sealing words on the album, growling in a throat-tearing death metal roar, “The! Prey! Rise! A! Bove!” The song is called “Fear Itself”. Perhaps it’s the band that describe themselves, their attitude, and their peers best, in one of the many metaphors thrown at us here: “Through a blazing fire this horse will ride / On and on the beast survives / Till the end of days you’re free to ride.”