"Black Sands of the Hourglass" (Tribunal / Angelskull; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Age Of Ruin have come a long way since I saw them back in 1999 during Day 2 of the Recoil Fest in the old Eight By Ten Club. As an unsigned band, Age Of Ruin were leaving nothing to chance and put forth every effort to make music their way. I reviewed their 1999 demo tape (yes, an actual cassette tape!) shortly after its release. The band's DIY ethic shone through in everything they did. I liked what I heard, but I was too thick to realize that Age Of Ruin were one of the first bands I heard that were taking American hardcore and Scandinavian styled melodic death metal into its own bastard form.

Unfortunately, I have missed most of their recorded material since the 1999 demo. However, from the raw sounds of their demo and the energetic performance of their live set, I knew this band had the potential to make something happen for themselves in the crazy and unforgiving music business. Lo and behold, five years later, and Age Of Ruin are quickly making a name for themselves across the globe for their metallic blend melodic metal and hardcore.

"Black Sands Of The Hourglass" is the band's first official full-length CD; the Tribunal release is actually a re-mastered re-issue of the band's debut with a couple of bonus tracks thrown in for good measure. It's still fair to compare Age Of Ruin to their local Washington, D.C. mates in Darkest Hour except that Age Of Ruin incorporate a whole lot more melody into their sound. Additionally, Age Of Ruin actually rock out in the musical space that is usually left untouched by nearly all metal, hardcore, and metalcore bands. "Black Sands Of The Hourglass" maintains its dark presence while still managing to bring a little swing and groove to their music without resorting to the tired idioms of modern metal. Additionally, Age Of Ruin's cover of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name" is as impressive as it is inspired. 

Age Of Ruin is everything I'd thought they'd become ? and maybe even more. The band's run on Tribunal Records ended after this album and an EP titled "Autumn Lanterns." The follow-up EP apparently displays less hardcore overtones and even more melody than ever. It's not the direction I had originally envisioned for the band, but a band's evolution is a tricky thing to predict sometimes. I understand that Age Of Ruin is now on the Eulogy label ? no doubt with a few more good albums up their sleeves.

"Black Sands Of The Hourglass" was produced by Daniel Fleming, Patrick Owens, and Ben Mellot.

Age Of Ruin: Derrick on vocals, Dan and Brian on guitars, Colin on bass, and Joe on drums.

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"The Opium Dead" (self-produced)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Age Of Ruin's four song demo is an aural blast of hardcore and thrash guitars with a touch of atmospheric doom for good measure. Death metal vocals with some hardcore flavors mixed in round out this demo. This aesthetically pleasing combination should appeal to a wide variety of heavy metal fans from hardcore to death metal. 

Age Of Ruin are a skillful quartet that have easily demonstrated their chops and song-writing talents in very short order. As hardcore and metal start to coalesce more than ever, Age Of Ruin seem to have found a good balance between the straight-forward intensity of hardcore and the complex leanings of heavy metal. 

The hardcore "Terror" is chock full of strong riffs, "Blacksunrise" combines the chaos of double-bass drum and rumbling bass to a fierce guitar riff, and the mid-paced grind of "Scattered Ashes" is a welcome reprieve from the fury of the other three songs. Last, but not least, "Torn Out Wings" adds Slayer-like elements for a nice heavy metal touch. 

Attention to detail is always important. The cassette has great packaging for a self-produced demo; the band's attention to detail is another sign of potential success for this raging group. 

"The Opium Dead" was produced by Ben Mellott and Age of Ruin. The sound is quite good for a demo - improvement in the band's vocals in the overall mix will be an important first step in reaching the masses. 

Age Of Ruin is Dan on guitars, Pat on drums, Chris on bass, and Derrick on vocals. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright ? 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01 Jul 2024 12:10:24 -0400.