By Dr. Abner Mality

Hello, BURIAL HORDES, it has been a while. Such a long while that my last run-in with these gruesome Greeks was their split with the forgotten VAN MAKT more than 10 years ago. The BH of that release was a dripping monstrosity of INCANTATION/DEAD CONGREGATION icky death metal.

This is not really that band any more. BURIAL HORDES have "matured", as critics say when a band makes a change, but maturity does not always equal enjoyment, especially in the death metal realm. "Ruins" is a perplexing release that shows definite growth but the band now has a kind of distant, clinical edge to their extremity. Cold dissonance has replaced cavernous grotesquery and a very noticeable black metal element has jumped in, too. There is still plenty of bruising death, but it always takes a detour. Take the very first track "In The Midst of a Vast Solitude", which opens with a wide open roar of TOTAL DEATH that is almost riffless. Yet the track ends in a completely different and much more atmospheric space that is intriguing. The transition here is interesting and many songs feature a stylistic shift that surprises. But it's not always successful. The dissonant flanged black metal just doesn't kick as much ass, to be blunt, and in some tracks like "A Wandering Stream of Wind" and "Infinite Sea of Nothingness" it winds up being boring.

Some tracks have a deliberate crushing pace and these tend to be the most successful. "Perish" is the album's heaviest, most consistent and best track...a real bulldozer. And the last cut "To The Threshold of Silence" is ice cold blackened doom. BURIAL HORDES have definitely "advanced" over the years but their ultimate magnum opus is yet to be reached. "Ruins" is effective yet curiously detached.