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Album Reviews : Dead City Ruins – Dead City Ruins

By on July 3, 2014

Dead City Ruins; if you do not already know the name, you soon will.  The Melbourne-bred five-piece’s recently released self-titled sophomore full-length album is, in short, an example of hard rock-meets-metal mastery.   From the kick-drum count-in until its thundery, rain-soaked conclusion, this is an album that demands that its presence be known and felt.

The current Dead City Ruins line-up comprises Jake Wiffen (vocals), Tommy Teabag (guitar), Sean Blanchard (guitar), Mick Quee (bass) and Andy (drums – oddly no surname is provided by the band’s Facebook page).  Formed in London back in 2007, they now have one EP and one full-length album under their belts, along with quite a few air miles.  From all the trials and tribulations hence those heady London pub days has emerged an uncompromising sound that is as gritty as Severn Sisters Tube.

Pinning down Dead City Ruins’ sound is no easy task.  Their influences are immediately apparent from the first listen: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, even dashes of Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses can be heard throughout, however dig a little deeper and the composite sketch reveals so much more.  Just don’t call it a throwback, for this album does not deserve the indelible “it’s all been done before” tag.

There are airborne vocals, occasional punk-inspired gang chants (“Shot Through”), duelling guitars and a rhythm section that packs as much punch as the Fitzroy of old.  The end result blurs the line that divides rock and metal by taking several shots of smoky Islay single malt whisky to it.  “One more bottle to see us through this train wreck,” indeed!  Moreover, the tempo varies not only from song to song, but within them as well; from the near-sludgy to the downright frenetic.  There is never, ever a dull moment, and these guys are definitely doing their own thing.

“Dio” is perhaps the most memorable song on this album; from which any track could potentially prove to be a standout.  The intro is nothing short of a master class in musicianship; its twists, turns and chord progressions are something to behold.  Then there is the solo.  It soars magnificently above an underlying, relentlessly rollicking chug.  Think of a wedge-tailed eagle flying above and keeping pace with a freighter going at full pelt across the desert and you get the picture.

Lyrically, Dead City Ruins take the torch and bottle to life in the (tour) bus lane on “Blue Bastard” and “Broken Bones” (listen out for the Slash-esque intro on the latter), self destruction (“Hurt”) and abandonment (“D.I.B.”), amongst other true to life themes.   There is, thankfully, nothing by way of lovey-dovey fluff to be found.  Particularly impressive is Dead City Ruins‘ ability to tell stories through song.  One might immediately draw a parallel with Bon Scott’s storytelling, which is an accurate enough assessment, however the lyrics here go that much darker, and a lot less tongue-in-cheek.

These hard-working lads have a flair that is all their own.  It can be heard in their sound and it is brought to the stage as well.  A recent headline show at Melbourne’s home of bizarre German digestif-fuelled rock n’ roll, Cherry Bar, showed just why this unit of a band was selected to support Skid Row and Ugly Kid Joe on their recent national tour; not to mention that they have also joined other big names in the UK and Europe.  Vocalist Jake Wiffen belts it out with the brute force of a stock whip, be it live or on record, more often than not with his bare chest revealed for all to see.  Moreover, neither band member hides behind their instrument.  Guitarists Tommy Teabag and Sean Blanchard even take the helm at centre stage during climactic moments.  Dead City Ruins are indeed true performers in every sense.

It simply would not be right if Dead City Ruins were to quietly become one of Aussie rock and metal’s best releases of 2014.  This record is a Winchester Model 1912 of a thing; its attention grabbing bang should, nay must, be heard by all.  Originality, musicianship, glory with all of the mess…, it’s all there.  Catchy and memorable as all hell, it will not leave your stereo for at least “forty nights and forty days,” guaranteed.

Band:  Dead City Ruins
Album: Dead City Ruins
Year: 2014
Genre:  Hard Rock/Metal
Label: Independent
Origin: Melbourne, VIC

1. Hapenzella
2. Til Death
3. D.I.B.
4. Hurt
5. Shot Through
6. Blue Bastard
7. Broken Bones
8. Dio
9. Bloody Tools