Digital Ruin - Listen


Year of Release: 1997
Label: Siegen Records
Catalog Number: SR-0008
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:27:00

Well, finally, the long awaited review of one of the most unique, creative, interesting and weird disc to come out of nowhere in a long time...

Let me start this review off by saying that this band is from Rhode Island, my home state. This is a state void of any metal, much less Prog Metal. This is a country & western state, where they view Prog Metal as something that comes out of a scrap yard. Notwithstanding that, if you look in the contact section of the insert, you will see that the address is North Kingstown, Rhode Island, my home TOWN!!!! How and where they made this disc, practice, thank the local Classic Rock radio station in their credits, is all a mystery to me. It actually makes this disc a while lot eerier...

In the meantime, these guys were supposed to play at the Powermad Festival in Baltimore, and as luck would have it, their guitarist didn't show up and they didn't play. What a pity, I believe they would have stole some of the show ... as luck would also have it, they left tons of discs behind with their record label, which has a table set up selling Digital Ruin discs, so in the spirit of support, I bought one blindly ... and here is what happened:

THE STYLE:

This can only be classified as Prog Metal ... I can't think another genre that this could fit into, nor can I think of one that would garner such creavity as this music contains ... quite simply, if you could imagine taking some Rage For Order-style Queensryche circa 1997, mix in some Fates Warning-ish type riffing here and there, take the darkness and ambience of Vauxdvihl along with their heavy-style guitar work, throw in more voice, digital, sound samples that would make Steven Spielberg proud to have in his movies, and you have Digital Ruin ... the name alone signifies what this band is trying to do with their sound ... The great thing is that they will not be called a "copy" or a "clone" of any one single band, and that should make lots of people happy who are looking for that "special" or "different" disc. However, in all honesty, this is not a disc for everyone ... if you get tired of hearing sound effects in your music at every turn, this may bother you ... If you like listening to music in the dark, and like to find yourself transported to some other mind plane, then this will satisfy your every desire. It is quite atmospheric, eery and haunting. It is almost like taking a movie soundtrack, maybe to a sci-fi or horror movie, and then building music around the sound effected base of the movie. Bands like this just cry out to be heard, based on the uniqueness of what they are trying to accomplish with their music.

THE BAND:

Drums, bass, 2 guitars, keyboard / vocalist ... very talented, creative musicians ... it is quite evident that this band did not just sit around one day jamming and come up with this music, because it sounds like every single instrument is doing something different, yet in conjunction to the other instruments ... hard to describe, but imagine 5 players all playing 5 different melody lines, yet somehow managing to stay cohesive enough to create a combined sound without making too chaotic too follow. There is some serious songwriting going on here folks, this stuff isn't made up over night ... of course, the drummer and bass are player are superb, having to maintain a base sound for this band must be the hardest thing to have to do for musicians, even ones so talented as these guys are ... the guitarists are awesome, and even though there are two of them, they do not have that signature "twin guitar attack" that lots of bands like to use these days ... instead, each guitarist is laying down a melody line while the other is doing a solo, and then they go back to both providing the lines in unison, but as with the bass and drums, the guitarists both seem to be something doing different with the main song lines, yet managing to combine the sounds to make it sound like one conhesive unit. Amazing is what the structures amount to. The keyboardist is not one of the focal points of the band. Rather, he is the vocalist laying down some nice atmospheric key sounds when needed. It is more of a background instrument than it is a frontal one. Most of the keyed sounds are sound effected synths that seem to coincide with the sound effects going on constantly in the music ... can they get heavy? YES!!! They like to jam it up quite a bit, and their power metal roots come shining through when the guitarists have their chance to rip it up ... essentially, they realize that they have a unique prog metal approach which they do not want to abandon for just any ordinary guitar riffs ... they only rip it up for a short period, then its right back to the uniqueness they seem bent on creating.

THE PRODUCTION:

The sound on this disc is incredible ... it has to be in order for all of the sound effects to be heard while riding along side of the music ... it is amazing that you can actually hear everything going on inside of the music. I'll bet they used as many tracks in the recording as humanly possible ... there are so many layers of music and sound effects that you wonder how your ears can distinguish and separate what is actually takiing place here ... but, somehow you can do it, and I attribute this to the immaculate engineering of this disc ... it is not without fault though. The vocals are just put back a bit in the mix, and it seems to be on the same level of recording that the instruments are, and sometimes his voice gets a bit overpowered by the large sound ... in addition, those of you who do not like reverb in your recordings, stay clear of this one ... The disc sounds like it was recorded in a large spaceship, with tons of reverb and echo added in intentionally to create this "epic," "sci-fi-like" sound of theirs ... it really adds to the dreaminess and emotion of the music, but I would say that there will be some to be turned off by this overuse of the effect. Even the drums are recorded with reverb, giving each drum an echo of its own ... speaking of drums, they too are just a bit put back in the mix, and for music if this nature, a nice big, heavy sound on the drum would have put this disc in the Dream Theater school of big sound ... other than the style of the recording, there isn't much to complain about on this one ...

THE VOCALS:

Here is where this disc is separated from lots of others ... Digital Ruin just happens to have a singer that sounds eerily close to James LaBrie of Dream Theater. There is no other way to describe him other than maybe adding some Ray Alder tones in their at certain times of songs, but for the most part, try to imagine James LaBrie singing what Rage For Order might sound like in 1997, backed up by tons of special effects and the darkness of a Vauxdvihl atmosphere ... My only complaint with the vocals is actually in the production, because they have his voice set at about the same level as they do the instruments, and for a guy with a voice like this, I think they should have done him just a but more justice and put his voice out front some more ... I am sure that there was a reason for this, and it is all intentional, but my feeling is that when you have a singer that sounds like James LaBrie, you want him to be up front sounding rich and full instead of having to compete with the same level as the instruments are set ... otherwise, anyone who is a fan of LaBrie will love this guy ... the similarity is uncanny ...

THE COMMENTS

Isn't is great when bands come from out of nowhere to produce artistic gems like this one? These are the discs that lots of people seem to value the most, and I can almost see why this is so ... it isn't often that bands in a particular genre get to be so creative that they set standards because there have been so many bands before them to set the standard. However, Digital Ruin has something quite creative here, and its great to see so many bands not riding on the coattails of those previous bands, but taking a different approach to the music by injecting their own interpretations and artistic impressions into the music to make it sound fresh. Bands like Heavens Cry, Soundscape, Pain of Salvation, and others come to mind when I think of "creative" or "unique" ... Digital Ruin is now in that league ... remember, this disc, like those others mentioned is not for everyone. You must be willing to open your mind and accept what they are doing here. This is not the typical, melodic, power, speedy, or any other style lots of us cling to and are comfortable with. When they say that Prog Metal is the "thinking man's" metal, they are referring to bands like Digital Ruin. Enter at your own risk, but bask in the glory once you do...

[As of December 2003, the band officially disbanded, some members staying together as Monoblok (acc'd to BNR Metal Pages) -ed.]


Tracklisting:
January 27, 2019 (1:30) / Of The Hand (5:44) / Becoming (1:33) / Pieces Of Me (5:56) / In The Mirror (The Dark Half) (6:37) / The Message (5:00) / Their Secrets (5:48) / 3:20 A.M. (1:03) / Escape (5:13) / Within (2:47) / Listen (5:09) / It's Only Me (2:17) / Revelation (3:50)

Musicians:
Mike Keegan - bass
Dave Souza - guitar
Matt Pacheco - vocals and keyboards
Tim Hart - drums and percussion

Discography:
Listen (1997)
Dwelling In The Out (2000)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri
Score:
Hits: 913
Language: english

  

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