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TRACK LIST: 1. Ruins 7:56 2. Made of Lies 3:49 3. Ocean of Life 5:17 4. The Game 4:14 5. Night Angel 6:08 6. Candlemess 7:29 7. Forever 1:19 8. Matter Over Mind 6:03 9. Knowing 3:46 10. Pillow of Silence 7:23 LINEUP: Rusty Pacemaker – vocals; guitars, bass; keyboards Franz Loechinger – drums With: Lady K – vocals Foxy – guitars
Prolusion. RUSTY PACEMAKER is the name chosen by an Austrian project, which is basically the creative vehicle of composer and musician Rusty Hessel. He first appeared back in 2010 with the debut album "Blackness and White Light". Following a 5-year long creative cycle, "Ruins" appeared in 2015. Both albums are released on Hessel's own label, Solanum Records.
Analysis. I understand that Rusty is self taught as a composer as well as musician. A background that does come with advantages as well as disadvantages, the major positive aspect of this is that creativity will not be stopped by taught conventional norms, the disadvantage being not having the knowledge to be able to use common conventional effects to elevate the impact of the compositions and instrumental performance. The universe of Rusty Pacemaker is a dark and melancholic one, to the point of being bleak. This is autumn mood music and night time atmospheres, with a gentle dystopian touch. Not quite Mordor, but closer to Mirkwood and the mines of Moria, before enemies are found lurking in the latter. That this album is named "Ruins" is kind of a giveaway as far as the moods explored are concerned. The music as such revolves around a heavy metal foundation, and one that is closer to old school metal than anything that appeared after 1990. Rusty does use some guitar motifs with a textured feel at times, and his riff construction, as well as the manner in which he pairs off gentler guitar details with darker and harder riffs, does have more of a contemporary feel to them, but the riffs are used within a context that is closer to old school metal than a more modern variety. The same is the matter for the occasional extreme metal details used to expand the canvas and provide variation. When that is said, the songs are generally slow to mid-paced, and when lapsing into a more defined form of metal, doom metal appears to be the style of choice more often than other subgenres within the metal spectrum. That we have a more spirited radio-oriented song, as well as a gentle ballad, doesn't really alter my impression as far as this goes, although it could be argued that this is an album that perhaps might be described just as accurate as a Gothic-flavored metal output. Subtle alterations in pace and arrangements do add a slight progressive flavor to the proceedings as well, perhaps not quite to the extent to being a progressive metal album as such, but not too far removed from being an aspect of that genre either. And on the song Candlemess Rusty Pacemaker shows that there is a great deal of potential to what he does as well, one of the tracks where he does manage to combine the best aspects of his songwriting and performance. This album is lacking in a few departments, however, first and foremost the vocals, where my perception is that tone control and harmony are a bit off from what you would expect from a recording artist. His style isn't without appeal, but it will be for a niche rather than a broader audience. The songs have a tendency to be a bit too monotonous as well, basically lacking those finer details that make a strong impact, resulting in music with a finite and limited appeal rather than a broader one. Otherwise I find the album well made and with an above average quality in terms of mix and production.
Conclusion. Those with a strong fascination for music exploring the darker aspects of old school heavy metal should find Rusty Pacemaker's second album "Ruins" to be worth a check. It is not a CD that can be described as broadly appealing, as the vocal style is not traditional and perhaps not of the quality most expect, and the songs will probably come across as a tad too monotonous for most. But those with a keen taste for dark-to-bleak atmospheres with distinct Gothic and doom metal undertones may well be swayed by the charms of this release.
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