Exuvia by The Ruins of Beverast

Release date: May 5, 2017
Label: Ván Records

Since when did The Ruins of Beverast follow the Rebirth of Nefast down ritual black metal mediocrity? Since The Ruins of Beverast’s last album, Blood Vaults, was released actually. Truly, the downward spiral for The Ruins of Beverast started eponymously with their album Foul Semen of a Sheltered Elite, but that record still had its good moments. Blood Vaults mostly went right past me, but The Ruins of Beverast listed their first DNF from me with latest full-length album Exuvia.

Truly, I liked the band’s EP Takitum Tootem for its irregularities and effective experimentation into alien territory. And while this album has one of the tracks on the EP in its tracklisting, I had a different impression this time around.

The EP was influenced by Native American tribe ritual practice. I genuinely loved the diversion into subject matter few black metal bands have explored. Though most fans expressed disappointment with the EP, I did not share that opinion at the time. This time around, we’ll have to start worrying about one of the most interesting black metal bands of all time, as The Ruins of Beverast take the worst moments from Blood Vaults and incorporate them to great extent into their latest record.

Fans who are in the know will see the band’s name and harbor the same perceptions of the band’s infallible reputation when they listen to Exuvia. But it can’t be stated enough how much more boring Exuvia is than any moment throughout the band’s discography. Exuvia makes for the band’s first miss in a long storied career.

Rain Upon the Impure is one of my favorite black metal albums of all time, and the road leading the guiding nucleus of the band’s history of releases has taken a change for the worst, and is now glaringly obvious, even as The Ruins of Beverast don’t completely hiccup for the entire length of any record. Expectations of the band’s lone member, muliti-instrumentalist Alexander von Meillenwald have sky-rocketed since the band’s revelatory first recordings and Exuvia sends these expectations back down to earth crashing. It is likely the decline of the band’s creative trajectory making manifest in Exuvia’s inability to sustain even one full listen to the record for some fans.

But that is true for plenty of black metal bands who delve into ritual black metal lasting runtimes of greater than eight minutes or so. Whether atmospheric black metal conceived in ritual worship makes for enjoyable listening is far from the scope of one writer. I may suggest a completely different answer for one perspective, so if you are a fan of Blood Vaults and have always yearned for the band to abandon their bottom-heavy production on that album, the band has successfully accomplished this. The bad news is that Exuvia not only brings back the worst and most boring moments of Blood Vaults, they flat out record an album’s worth of those segments with similar traits.

The riffs are forgettable. The percussion is so-so. The blast sections are toothless. Exuvia is boring. I did not complete a listen to the album in any amount of attempts I made to sit through it. Mainstream writers may denote the band’s reputation for infallibility, but that is a large pandemic in perception that mainstream metal fans and writers share with bands that have entered the mainstream and have lost the hunger for truly innovative black metal composition. Start with Watain’s The Wild Hunt, and I still say that that album has invariably more interesting moments and ideas than those of The Ruins of Beverast in the conception of Exuvia.

Those two bands present some of the best in their respective sub-genres, but both have seemingly taken more mainstream approaches to their styles as of late. It is of worthy note to point out that The Ruins of Beverast continue its use of content to greater pique interest in most fans, but to the sad extent of playing little music here worthy of praise. The band’s compositions have little accessible qualities, and while the riffs don’t register as dissonant, the riffs are almost surely obscure and listless.

Most bands never complete a discography of releases without hiccuping once. This is the hope for any fan of The Ruins of Beverast disappointed with Blood Vaults and Exuvia. Is it likely that the band can bounce back from a release of sub-par quality? Of course, but with the downward trend in the band’s last four releases making its way to the lowest in the latest recording, fans can start checking out the band’s previous albums and await the band’s revival in future releases. It is hard to write a review such as this for a band I have admired greatly, but if it’s one good thing about Exuvia that should be noted of Alexander von Meillenwald, is that his future releases might show a liberation from the particulars that make Exuvia so boring.

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