Greece might not be the first country you’d associate with melodic death metal, but AmongRuins is definitely flying the banner for the genre and have put together a strong showing with ‘No Light’. Due out on May 20th on OneManArmy Records, the label run by Tuomas Saukkonen of Wolfheart, the album delivers twelve songs worth of high energy melodic death metal that also incorporates some black metal and sweeping instrumentation that recalls some of the classic Greek bands like Rotting Christ and SepticFlesh. Plus, any band that’s got Tuomas Saukkonen’s approval is definitely worth paying attention to.
Today we’re excited to premiere Spirits, the tenth song from ‘No Light’. It’s one of the songs that skew the most towards the traditional melodic death metal template, but AmongRuins does it so well that you can’t help but bang your head along to the high energy riffing and blasting drums. Wasting no time, the song launches right into denser riffing that alternates between fast paced riffing and slower, chugging riffs that utilize a bottom heavy sound. It’s like a cross between Amon Amarth and classic In Flames with some other influences thrown in for good measure, and has that type of sweeping instrumentation that reminds me of why I was drawn to melodic death metal over a decade and a half ago.
While the instrumentalists do their best to pummel you with bursts of intensity and soaring leads, vocalist Sverd delivers a lower pitched scream/growl that fills the spaces in the sound and grabs your attention with a commanding presence. Over the years a lot of melodic death metal bands have branched out and tried to incorporate a range of clean singing to mixed results, but AmongRuins sticks to what works and lets a wide range of harsh pitches drive their material forward. The production values help to make Sverd’s performance have a larger than life feel that’s dominant on all of the songs, and that’s just how I like this type of metal.
Give Spirit a listen and I’ll think you’ll be convinced of AmongRuins’ ability to write melodic death metal that does the old classics proud without retreading too much of any one particular band. In addition to the song we also had the chance to ask some questions to learn more about ‘No Light’ and the work that went into its creation.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): ‘No Light’ is set some come out on May 20th. So far you’ve given fans sneak peeks of the album in the form of videos for The Last Day and Beneath the Waves. What has the reception been like to your new material so far?
AmongRuins: The reception has been more positive than we expected, we were blown away by the positivity fans filled us with!
TO: Official music/live videos seem to be something of a rarity in certain styles of metal these days. Why do you think this is the case, and what made you decide to do videos for both of your pre-release singles?
AmongRuins: We believe the lack of budget to be the no. 1 reason, since videos are expensive. First of all, we are really a live band and we want to show the fans the energy we have on stage and when we play in general. Also, we decided to make videos because we wanted to give an early taste of our evolved sound, since it has been a while since the release of our debut and with the several setbacks we had in this album’s creation, we wanted to make up a bit for the extra “waiting time”.
TO: The press release for ‘No Light’ mentions a series of setbacks during the creation of the album. I’m guessing one of the biggest was your previous record label Noisehead Records going bankrupt. Did that come as a surprise, and what other challenges did you face between ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ and this album?
AmongRuins: Fortunately, we were forewarned about Noisehead’s situation and so it didn’t become a major setback. The greatest setback was having two of our members called for military service, which delayed the production process. But OneManArmy has been a great help in setting us back on course quickly.
TO: For those that are familiar with ‘Bring Out Your Dead’, how would you compare it with the new material? What elements of your writing and studio time did you decide to approach differently with this new album?
AmongRuins: We paid more attention into streamlining our song structures and the balance between groove, aggression and melody. Compared to ‘Bring Out your Dead’, our new material feels much more “evolved”, with our variety of musical influences under a unified, “solid” musical identity. A big plus is also the production by Tuomas Saukkonen and the difference in the final result is prominent.
TO: The album will be released by OneManArmy, the label run by Tuomas Saukkonen (Wolfheart). Saukkonen also appears on the album and recorded/produced the material. How did this collaboration come together?
AmongRuins: Our relationship with Tuomas stretches almost a decade back. We were fortunate enough to be on tour alongside Before the Dawn as members of another band we had at that time, and a great friendship got to grow between us. After those tours, we toured Greece twice as AmongRuins with Wolfheart playing many awesome gigs! Tuomas is a professional, extremely talented and above all he is our brother! It is truly unbelievable that a man from another country, with all his history in music has been a true friend to us, much more than people that are in our daily lives…
TO: One of my favorite songs on the album is The Last Day, which is a bit slower than some of the others on ‘No Light’ and feels like it has a guitar lead that makes it sound like it’s sending the listener off to battle. Can you tell us more about how this song came together and what you were aiming for with it?
AmongRuins (Sverd): The music tries to combine a heroic aspect of Greek musical elements with the extreme melodic metal, trying to bring together the atmosphere with the urge to eliminate anything in your path!
AmongRuins (Thanos): It is very good to hear that it is one of your favorites! I decided to write the lyrics because it was something special for me as a song too. It describes the last day that you dedicate to anyone that isn’t worth it. The last day before I leave. Through various situations and bad experiences The Last Day is a way to say a final goodbye.
TO: The artwork for the album really stands out to me. Can you tell us a little about its concept and how it ties into your material? Who created the album artwork?
AmongRuins: The artwork was created by our dear fiend Hel Pyre. It tries to conceptualize the many levels of darkness and its various types that reside within us all, which is the main lyrical theme of the album as well.
TO: There are so many great melodic death metal bands out there, and I definitely think you’re worthy of being up there as well. What are some of the groups in the genre that have had a personal inspiration on you as you got into melodic death metal?
AmongRuins: You are making us very proud! To be honest, our influences come from many different genres, ranging from melodic death metal to core, black metal and even brutal death metal.
The music tries to combine a heroic aspect of Greek musical elements with the extreme melodic metal, trying to bring together the atmosphere with the urge to eliminate anything in your path!
TO: With the album set to release so soon, do you have any touring plans for the near future?
AmongRuins: We did a Greek tour with Wolfheart to promote the new album already. Now there are some plans for a few summer gigs and a bigger tour coming for the middle of the fall.
TO: Tell us about some of your most memorable live performances to date, and what made them so special.
AmongRuins: Our latest show in Crete with Wolfheart and Desert Near the End is one of our most memorable shows to date, as the local promoters, crew & fans are all insane and we had a great time from the moment we set foot on the island until the time we left. Drinks, jokes and fun. And of course every show in Athens which is our hometown and we always have the support of many fans and friends! Keep it up guys and girls!
TO: When I think of Greek metal bands, bigger names like Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, and Zemial come to mind. What are some lesser known Greek metal bands that our readers should be paying attention to, and what is it like to be a metal head in Greece?
AmongRuins: There are many great Greek bands. The level here has increased dramatically over the past decade. The list of great Greek bands is too big to fully mention, but to name a few (in a variety of genres), check out Inveracity, Kin Beneath Chorus, Diviner, Kawir, Planet of Zeus, Aetherian, Fall of Order and Blynd, our brothers from Cyprus.
TO: There’s definitely an epic feel to a lot of your choruses, which could fit in as a video game or movie soundtrack. If you guys had to choose one of your songs to go in a video game or movie, what song would you pick and what type of game or movie would it fit well with?
AmongRuins: We would love to hear Sear Sacrifice in an action movie and Don’t Look Behind definitely in an epic one…
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘No Light’ or AmongRuins?
AmongRuins: We strongly believe that we have made a good album and that its listeners will feel the same. We hope you like it and we are looking forward to seeing you at one of our shows!