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Monday, January 13, 2014

Hands of Ruin - "Iudicium"

Artist: Hands of Ruin
Album: Iudicium (single)
Year: 2014
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Martial, Neo-Classical, Tribal
Website: handsofruin.bandcamp.com/

Iudicium is the new single from martial project Hands of Ruin. I enjoyed his previous full length and had high expectations for this one as he described it to me as being quite influenced by Rukkanor and Arcana. And I must say that his assessment was not far off! This definitely carries a very "sword and sandal" / Middle Eastern vibe.

This is a single so there are only three new songs, an extended version of the title track, and a video file. The opener, the title track "Iudicium", sounds like a lost track from Rukkanor's Deora. Of course I find this incredibly attractive as that is one of my favorites albums. There are quite a few similarities (without being an exact clone): the subdued tribal-esque hand percussion, the medieval strings, and the deep choirs. It feels like warriors travelling through a darkened crypt, lit only by torchlight. It's martial music for ancient legions in the desert (The Ottoman Empire, Persia or similar), rather than the Roman empire or World War 2. It forgoes the bombast of acts like Triarii, in favor of more suspenseful and melancholy atmospheres. He has woven these elements together expertly into quite visionary pieces. The second and third songs "Sententia" and "Absolutio", respectively, are kind of futile to go into because they use all the same elements and could be described in virtually the exact same manner. "Sententia" is a bit more subdued than the opener and it reminds me of trading goods in the bazaar. "Absolutio" gives more of an "epic" vibe and makes me feel like I'm in a palace and/or strategizing for the coming battle. All three songs use a very similar soundset, but I found each to be quite enjoyable and not like a rehash of the previous track. The production is solid, though a bit quiet (although this uncompressed sound gives it something of an "old school" feel).

Overall, I find this to be a highly enjoyable EP that fans of Martial and middle eastern-tinged music should absolutely track down. I love the aforementioned Deora album and have long lamented that there isn't a whole lot out there that sounds like it...well now there is. I hope that Hands of Ruin will create a full length in this style, or at least incorporate elements into the next full length. Definitely a must hear for fans of Rukkanor and Muslimgauze. I'm still shocked that he is not releasing on a label, as this would be right at home on Rage in Eden, Staalplaat, or similar. Hoping he gets picked up because his work is seriously good and deserves a wider audience.

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