Detroit brawlers Fell Ruin cast dark shadows over harrowing reality with brutal ‘Cast in Oil…’

The world is a dark and horrible place, and anyone who thinks differently clearly isn’t paying attention or is willfully ignorant to the truth. We live in a hellscape that likely is going to get worse. Oppression is on the rise, hatred is seen as a quality to get elected, and respect and protection for people different from the majority is eroding at an alarming rate. Survival has become a deadly game for so many.

Detroit black metal/doom crushers Fell Ruin surely have seen the erosion in their own backyards, and they use their second record “Cast in Oil the Dressed Wrought” as a sort of memoir for a character trying to survive in what’s become an increasingly hostile world. The band—vocalist/synth player Brian Sheehan, guitarist/synth player Robert Radtke, bassist Jeff McMullen, drummer August Krueger—deliver a six-track destroyer that is heavy, bleak, and bruising. It’s a record that aligns with anyone feeling the same type of misery but also reminds that positivity is a losing game, and there is so much more to endure before we can even imagine brighter days. Reality sucks, and this album is a reminder.

“Fixation” opens the record and is a quick, synth-driven intro track setting the ambiance for what comes next, which most directly is the title track that immediately ravages from the word go. The pace has moments where it slows and lets the burn really get inside of you, but mostly you’re being fully battered as weird guitar lines slash, the playing boils in hell, and a brief gasp of solemnity dives right back into churning power. The bass chews, the howls pummel, and the fog claims everything. “Stain the Field” blisters as the vocals cave chests, dark and foreboding melodies rushing and snaking. Foreboding winds blow as the playing gets more intense, giving off strange vibes that encircle, the guitars knifing toward you dangerously, washing out with pools of blackening blood.

“Patronage of the Gutted Man” is another quick instrumental cut, sprinkling folkish melodies and gentler guitars, slowly trickling toward “The Burning Spire” that tears open and lets the drums mount a complete assault. The playing trudges and splits skulls as the vocals burst, and the guitars tremble, leaving you shaking uncontrollably. Detached speaking makes you feel extra uncomfortable as the growls corrode, the playing thrashes and burns, and the knives coming at you at weird angles finally relent as the end is fully smothered. Closer “Sightless Amongst the Weavers” dawns in a cloud of strange synth that wafts, and then the growls splatter, and psychedelic drops get into your skin and make you see visions. Cavernous power engulfs as the playing mars, coming apart and powdering bones. The riffs ignite and make seismic waves, the devastation multiplies, and everything spirals out, resting forever in a static bed.

“Cast in Oil the Dressed Wrought” is immersed in the horrors of the world, a place where our comfort gets further away from us by the moment. Fell Voices treat this reality with harrowing, hypnotic and doomy black metal that tortures your soul and pushes your psyche to its limits. This is a massive statement that is a sobering reminder of the hell that surrounds us and that music like this is here to be a partner in that shared torture.  

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