Prepare to be (mildly) let down.
Ruiner's fairly hyped, proper Bridge 9 debut might come as a bit of a surprise to anyone who skipped over the album's teaser 7", The Lives We Fear, released several weeks ago. The band hasn't necessarily gone any sort of drastic stylistic makeover -- they're still playing fast and foreboding, semi-melodic hardcore in the form of desperate heartwrenching moment after desperate heartwrenching moment, but a few traits have been tweaked along the way.
For starters, ever-serious throat-shredding Rob Sullivan sounds like a new man. Initial listens cause the band's frontman to sound like he's on the verge of vomiting his words; he sounds oddly nauseous and his voice is much more muddled and less clear than on the band's celebrated What Could Possibly Go Right... EP. Maybe Sullivan received an untimely visit from the Food Poison Fairy during the band's 11-day stay at The Outpost, where they twisted knobs with the consistent Jim Siegel (who himself does coat the album with a healthily pulverizing and necessarily dark tint). Luckily, repeated spins of Prepare to Be Let Down help the listener adjust to Sullivan's relatively new delivery, but one can't help but think he still sounded less self-rushed and better understood on previous efforts.
Musically, there's a couple of clever subtleties hanging around Prepare, but there's also a fair number of all too generic, straightforward moments that plague the record a slight bit. There are some interesting tempo changes and reckless, repeated cries of "hear me!" in "40 Miles North," but "The Lives We Fear" opens with everyday hardcore riffs and doesn't quite get really interesting until Sullivan begins to spit it. Still, the singer rambles like a man gone mad through Prepare's entire 21-minute (give or take) course, and that somewhat makes up for the band's failure to match the incredible dynamic they accomplished on the EP, where climactic moments like the closing of "Adhering to Superstition" reigned supreme. They certainly come close on the album's last couple tracks, at least; "When the Mourning Ends," "Sleepless" and "Kiss That Motherfucker Good Night" are all compelling practices in restraint and buildup, properly exploding where the band failed to on most of the album and making for an impressive closing trilogy.
However, what Ruiner may lack in musical progression, they make up for in the incredibly brutal lyrical department. Jaw-dropping lines like "Maybe if I said something a bit more meaningless, than possibly I could make my father proud of the things I've done" are nearly painful to listen to. Sullivan isn't just spilling his guts -- he's tearing out his organs and forcing them down your throat. He labels himself an "attention whore" in "That Stone Better Be on Fire" and dedicates the particularly bitter "A Song for Beggars" to what seems like a promiscuous old fling: "Seek your attention elsewhere; tell him how many times someone stepped on your heart / [...] / How perfect you can be but don't forget to mention how far you can spread your legs."
Prepare to Be Let Down unfortunately has a slightly telling title, but that's not to say it's at all a bad record, as it admirably spills forth bare-bones honesty in interestingly bare structures. It certainly won't cement their place as today's best band in hardcore, but it does prove they'll firmly remain in the genre's upper echelon.
The Lives We Fear
Kiss That Motherfucker Good Night