You know how moths emerge from the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly? That's pretty much a good way to describe the metamorphosis of the Los Angeles powerhouse known as My Ruin. The band, which has always been untouchable live, has had good records. Good, not great. The slate is completely wiped clear with the release of The Brutal Language.
The unrelenting chainsaw sound which usually strikes with gale wind force is intact but has been tunneled into a more potent weapon this time out. Something has changed in the camp of My Ruin, resulting in undoubtedly the best record of their career and one of the best of any of the year. While the face of My Ruin has always been the larger-than-life persona of vocalist and founder Tairrie B, musically the band has been under the direction of guitarist Mick Murphy. And on The Brutal Language, he has turned in a performance that should turn heads.
During the recording of the record, the band's former rhythm section up and quit. Undaunted, Murphy, who also assumed the producer's title, erased their tracks and laid down bass and drums as well as contributing the awesome guitar that he is slowly becoming known for. He has been called "the best kept secret in rock and roll" but that should become a thing of the past as this record gets heard. Starting with his sound, which summons all the best elements of Tony Iommi, he lays down a crunchy bedrock so thick you could walk on it. Then you have to notice all the subtle changes he's incorporated this time out. There are little instrumental breathers for a bar or two which really supercharge the dynamics of each song. As well, he has begun playing more solos, which are real welcome to these ears.
Not to be overshadowed is the aforementioned Miss B, who casts a long shadow on her own. Known for her mega-charged full-on vocal delivery, Miss B has learned that a little variety can be more powerful than the one gear she has used in the past. Previous works would find Tairrie just bowling over everything in her way, to be the last one standing. On The Brutal Language she has opted to use some different styles. "I just wanted to try a bit of a different thing," she says. "Not just scream all the time. I'm not a singer. It's not really what I do. I just went in and I thought, you know, I'm just going to try whatever comes out of me with a sort of inspiration from the men I really dig. And the vocal styles I really dig and kind of make it my thing." Don't fret if you think that means she has mellowed, however. She still mostly slices and dices the words that spew from her arsenal of poison-tipped weapons.
The record starts with a spoken word piece that is a snippet of a Frank Sinatra song "Nature Boy" that champions the power of love, which is a theme throughout the record, according to Miss B. This leads into "Silverlake 65 71". This is the only song that I didn't take to initially. After several spins, however, it's become a favourite. Tairrie growls on this one instead of her face-melting screams and the effect is noticeable. "I'm a sinner and you're a saint", sings Tairrie wryly, in the first of many references one guesses about her former bandmates.
Murphy's fuzz-laden Gibson kicks off "The Devil Walks", one of the strongest cuts on the record, and an invitation from Tairrie to take verbal shots at her as so many others have done. "Honesty is the holiest disease", she sings, while adding, "Forgive…I have sinned. Believe…I'll do it again."
"Spilling Open" is a slash and maim exercise with some more acerbic lyrics: "I know when I stab her, it won't be in her back". Miss B utilizes some restrained vocals before letting rip on the chorus.
The jewel of the record is laid bare with "Cold Hands, Warm Heart", an absolute monster of a cut. From the call-to-arms military intro, you know they mean business. Tairrie gleefully wails like some possessed harpy over the steroid-driven guitar lines of Mick "Freakin'" Murphy. This cut is almost hard rock-ish than metal and powers along until midway through when it shifts gears and gets even better. Murphy lays down a brief bass solo thingie before stretching out on a spectacular solo. As Murphy finishes the solo, Tairrie comes barrel-housing along with some typhoon vocals that just raise the energy level by about 500%. This is simply My Ruin at their best. The cut is by far my favourite My Ruin cut and even Murphy himself says it's the best song they've recorded.
"Metamorphosis" is a behemoth of a beast that lumbers along looking for victims. "Summer of Hell" is another standout cut that impresses. Tairrie starts off the track with attempting to scream her pancreas up through her throat. But like many other cuts on this record, the brutality reigns for short periods of time before the storm lifts for a brief sojourn before resuming its path of destruction.
"Vince Vaughn" is something that Tairrie says was done as a love song to Mick. Apparently Mr. Murphy can imitate anything and they were in a Vince Vaughn mood during the recording of this record. Murphy would go around dropping lines from Vaughn all through the sessions. So Miss B took a bunch of those lines and made a song which is different than anything they've done in the past. "Imitation of Christ" is another abrasive track that sizzles. Closing out the record is a cover of the Mudhoney track "Touch Me, I'm Sick". Murphy throws in a clever snippet of "Whole Lotta Love" around the solo.
To any fan of My Ruin, this is absolute nirvana. The Brutal Language has the band digging down deep and pulling out their best effort to reach a whole new level. To newbies, there is no better place to start. With the band energized from the addition of a new rhythm section, Chris Lisee on bass and Jason Brunk on drums, the future looks positively dazzling for My Ruin.