Rest Among Ruins – Fugue (Self-Released)

Thursday, 21st May 2015
Rating: 9.5/10

Vocalist Mike Semesky has been really moving up the ranks in the past few years. After his stint in The HAARP Machine, he sang on Interval’s second album (and first to feature vocals). He then joined Raunchy, no doubt partially responsible for the band’s impressive Vices.Virtues.Visions. Rest Among Ruins is Semesky’s latest project, put together with bandmates in Baltimore, which takes in a slurry of influences and merges them into something special.

Fugue takes elements from melodic death metal, progressive metal, djent, and rock, and rolls them into one emotive and sometimes massive and heavy concept album. Sometimes it seems a comparison with last year’s underrated effort from Son of Aurelius is in order, in the way that Rest Among Ruins balances heavy, expansive riffing with a combination of clean and harsh vocals. But where Under a Western Sun leaned more towards technical death metal, Fugue veers towards the progressive and melodic death metal end. You’ll find some heavy cuts in the form of “Beyond the Storm,” “Everyone’s Glowing Home,” and “In Another’s Skin” that also feature some lush progressive riffs and technical flourishes. These are balanced by the more melodic numbers, such as the impressive two-pack of “Cleanse the Sky” and “Siren City” as well as “Reach the Edge.” At 66 minutes, there’s plenty of content to digest, and it never becomes a chore, which can be chalked up to the rich diversity found from beginning to end.

Despite the progressive flourishes and melodic hooks, Fugue is really Semesky’s show and he does not fail to repeatedly impress. From catchy, infectious choruses (“Stranded in the Balcony”) to harsh/clean interplay (“Before You Speak”), Semesky proves his range and worth. His moment to shine though is the 11-minute closing title track. A slow burning song which starts with keyboards and gradually builds momentum, Semesky carries the track with his emotionally powerful vocals that will occasionally induce chills.

It’s hard to find much fault on Fugue. Those looking for a combination of hard hitting riffs, emotive vocals, and vivid atmosphere will find haven with Rest Among Ruins. One of the year’s best surprises so far, and one of the flat-out best of the first half of the year, it’s all but certain the band is bound to receive some accolades come year’s end. A can’t miss effort for those who enjoy melodic metal.

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