Spin a globe around, point your finger at a random destination and there’s likely to be a cool metal band from there. This has always been true, of course, but the at-your-fingertips convenience of smartphones and the rise of outlets like Bandcamp make finding unique and strange new global artists even easier than in the early aughts file sharing days, let alone before then. Carving out my own, however tiny, niche on this here internet has allowed me to get on my dumb little soapbox about amazing new voices from Canada, Belgium, Japan and France that I may have not discovered otherwise. Today’s contestant: Australia.
Australia, by way of England and New Zealand that is, and currently spreading their pitch black gospel across Europe. How’s that for global? Ruetz describe themselves as “blackened hardcore”, and though that combination is hardly anything new (shades of underappreciated Italian crew The Secret), it’s the way that Ruetz melds the two that caught me off guard.
Opening salvo of the duo’s (yes, only two men conjure this apocalyptic cacophony) new EP “Melanoma”, Operation In Famine blastbeats and speedpicks in fine black metal fashion, so I expected a thunderous breakdown or punky d-beat interlude to bring up the hardcore end of the bargain. Surprisingly it’s vocalist/drummer Kieran Brindley bringing the ‘core with an intense, urgent dry throated shout straight from the Dischord vaults, over Matthew Watts’ atonal, dissonant riffs: black enough to make any of Ruetz’s Norwegian forefathers proud (for now anyway, more musical experimentation comes later). Blackened hardcore, you say? Okay, Ruetz, I’m listening…
Second track Liberator Denial continues apace, distorted guitars lead a death’s march and the record’s first breakdown sneaks in as the vocal attack becomes more wail than holler, twisting the tug of war between BM and HC. Waste evokes Converge at their most bleak before erupting into a wall of feedback dead set against Brindley’s tornadic drumwork.
The lead in to Low Liars spells dread and doom before blossoming into what may be the catchiest and most punk track on the record, grinding into a noise plateau of epic headbanging proportions, segueing right into Engine‘s fist pumping breakdown-alongs turned tumultuous torment, and the excellent old school thrash aping denouement of Joy.
What genre you call Ruetz or where they’re from ultimately matters little. They could be from halfway around the world, or I could find out they practice up the street from my house. That’s the beauty of music in general and aggressive music in particular. As listeners become more adventurous and artists become more brave, genre demarcations will mean just as little as gender, race and nationality should when judging artistic worth. Is it hardcore? Is it black metal? Where are they from? It’s cool to know but only if it’s going to help you broaden your horizons and not as an excuse to shut yourself in. All I know is that Ruetz’s “Melanoma” kicks ass, and you should listen to it.
“Melanoma” is available now.