Digital Ruin - Dwelling In The Out

Year of Release: 2000
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMCD042/SPV 085-31692CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:38:00

Well I can't say I was overwhelmed by this release by Digital Ruin. It's quite good, but Dwelling In The Out doesn't blow me away. Vocalist Matt Pacheco has a voice that's reminiscent of James LaBrie, but the music doesn't hew that closely to the Dream Theater style. The keyboards stand out in the mix, swirling eddies that seem added on and contrast far too much with the rest of the instrumentation - they'd be bit better in a neo-prog context rather than a metal context. In many tracks they don't do anything but sit there and swirl. In the opening track "Living For Yesterday," they do have some movement.

On the other hand, I find the chiming bells on "Darkest Day" as very cool, with their deep, brassy sound - very uncharacteristic for a metal release. I'm guessing the thought here is "for whom the bell tolls? It tolls for thee." That darkest day is a dark place indeed ? and without revealing too much, I've been in that dark place a time or two myself.

The title track is quite strong, and while there are keys, they fit more comfortably in the mix, adding to the fullness of the sound. The chorus is oddly harmonized - a bit "digital" sounding, which I guess is entirely fitting. This is the track that would sell me on the band - hearing this, I want to hear more.

"The Forgotten" is part anti-war statement, and here the keyboards swirling underneath is quite annoying - like listening to someone on a portable phone when they are just outta range, that signal noise? Or as if from a radio station not quite tuned in right. (I'd say it was my equipment, but I've been listening on two different systems, so?) But, when those keys fade into the background, the track becomes quite good, and makes quite a point, as the other part

Percolating bass (Keegan), light percussion (Hart), chiming guitar accents (Souza) intro "Adrift" beneath quiet, understated vocals by Pacheco, ease into harsh guitar slashes and heartbeat like bass and drums. Here's another track where the keys seem outta place - Pacheco's keyboard sound is quite a bit like Mark Kelly's of Marillion (the mid-80's model), so I don't find those parts bad, just out of place.

As in their debut Listen, there is a great deal of audio and sonic effects used, but since I've not heard that earlier disk, I can't tell you whether it's more or less here. It all seems to fit, and since this plays like a concept album, it adds to the drama of it. Those bell like tones are repeated on "Night Falls Forever," adding to the concept feel of it. The narrow the concept into a simple statement - man is depressed to the point of suicide - hey, didn't we just have that with Nevermore's Dreaming Neon Black? Of course, that is stating it simply - there are far more layers to it.

The worst example of keyboard effects is the plodding intro to "Along The Way" - if this was only effect trying evoke the image of English bog in the dark with a Grendel like creature in the midst then it would be appropriate ? but it's not and it's not.

Okay, bottom line is that this is good progressive metal release. I have personal issues with the keyboards, but those may not be everyone's issues. The material is well played, the vocals are good, and the music is engaging for the most part, so this does get my recommendation. My only suggestion for the their next album is to mix the keys in a bit better.

Also released by InsideOut Music America, IOMACD 2008

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

Living For Yesterday (5:36) / Darkest Day (4:48) / Dwelling In The Out (5:45) / The Forgotten (6:21) / Adrift (5:18) / Night Falls Forever (6:10) / Machine Cage (6:00) / Letting Go (5:15) / The Agony Column (5:05) / Along The Way (6:40)

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

Listen (1997)
Dwelling In The Out (2000)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: March 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1008
Language: english


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