Review: Lesser Glow – Ruined

Lesser Glow does not tell you about the events leading up to the apocalypse. Instead, you’re dropped right into the desolate gloom and you’ll stay there wandering for a full 25 minutes. There are no signs of life. What light there is will never shine beyond a muted luminescence. Breathing in the dust is difficult and painful. Lesser Glow paints the bleak audible equivalent picture of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road with their debut Ruined and it’s nothing short of great.

There is no opener to Ruined that’ll ease you into what you’re about to hear. Ruined greets you with a few seconds of feedback followed by palm muted chords, matching bass, and drums all successfully landing punches to your jaw. “Ruined” does a great job incorporating clean vocals at points by shifting around the song’s plodding heaviness into a steamroller rhythm section backings with single-note guitar lines over top.

“Vacant Throne” is a little less glacial obliteration-by-sound. The song certainly employs the sludginess of “Ruined,” but ups the tempo and has a pretty beautiful middle section accented by falsetto vocals and sustaining harmonies. At least up to near the three-minute mark, where drum fills abound and Lesser Glow actively tries to suffocate you below the gloom. The clean vocal line in the chorus is especially notable in “Vacant Throne.” The second-to-last note is a half-step sharp of where you’d expect it to be, pulling the whole line dramatically toward the final note. It’s a great little detail in the song that once you notice it, you’ll be happy it’s there.

You’ll notice at this point that Ruined is following a specific evolutionary flow. “Ruined” is crushing and “Vacant Throne” mixed more melodic elements in with the destruction. Now there’s “Tel Meggido,” which is clean vocals galore. “Tel Meggido” has a lot of conflicting euphony that still keeps the uneasy vibe of Ruined, and coming off the 10 prior minutes of devastation, it works well. “Tel Meggido” also precedes “Empty Eyes,” an amped up and shorter version of the stomping fury found on “Ruined.” Even the brief clean vocal appearance on the song is sung with such distorting force that they might as well be screams.

“Fall On Mortal Decay” and “Under The Polar Shade” take everything you’ve heard thus far and stretch them out over the course of about eight minutes. “Fall Under Mortal Decay” is an atmospheric instrumental piece that wouldn’t be out of place as an interlude on a creepier version of Opeth‘s Blackwater Park. The song also plays right into “Under The Polar Shade” as it swells back to the sheer heft you’ve come to expect from Ruined by now. The best part of “Under The Polar Shade” is the tonal shift at the end as Lesser Glow briefly hits some major chords for a glimpse of happiness before making even that moment explode into the final bout of blows and ensuing sea of static.

Every song on Ruined is connected to the next. Be that through a brief bit of noise toward the end of a track, or the next song’s opening playing off the last, Ruined has a brilliant flow to it. It’s 25 impeccable minutes of metal that doesn’t have an ounce of fat on it. Kudos to Lesser Glow as well for making Ruined sound like a real band played it. The record’s recording is massive and was likely recorded right in the room with the band as they hashed the whole thing out as a unit. Personally, I wish the bass had a little more presence on the record, but the instrument isn’t completely absent either.

Ruined sounds great, the music is even better, and the replay value on it is through the roof. If you haven’t heard Ruined yet, you’re missing out big time. Period.

Buy Ruined here.

Ruined was listened to via Tidal streaming through ROON. Audio was streamed through an AudioQuest DragonFly Black v1.5 into Sennheiser HD 598 Cs Closed-Back Headphones.

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