Ruled by Reason - _The Dawning of Dystopia_
(The Execution Kollective, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (7 out of 10)
_The Dawning of Dystopia_ is a melodic core stompfest informed by the mid-Aughts' usual suspects: Meshuggah, Mastodon, Killswitch Engage, Mega Man 2. Wait... what the fuck? Can't be. No way that riff in "Dr. Jekyll Sleeps Alone Tonight" bears any resemblance to an 8-bit Ode to an Arm Cannon. (Did we all want one of those when we were kids, or was that just me?) I'm sure I'm just imagining that album closer "Dorsia" shares harmonic similarities with that versatile robo-dude's theme music. Right? Nothing could be sillier than thinking the drip-drip intro to the title track (which segues, incidentally, into a gorgeous, skyscraping piano-n-guitar vista) is in any way reminiscent of Dr. Wily's eerily quiet, acid-lined caverns. But damn, now that I've thought it, I can't shake it. Not that _Dawning_ comes off at all like one of those Nintendo-core bands that have lately crept into the fringes of our beloved (and already quite nerdy enough, thank you) extreme metal community, but there are those moments of nagging familiarity...

Whether or not these guys spent the early '90s thrashing Wood Man with Metal Blades, they can sure play the hell out of their instruments. Sam Newman handles his drum kit with as much finesse as one might expect of any tonal instrument, meting out clobberings and cleverness with equal savvy. Searing guitar melodies simmer and soar around nearly everything else in the mix, adding a depth to the experience and offering listeners several choices of focus at any given moment. "We Met Destruction" rips into action with uncompromising crunch. "Within These Memories" chugs hungrily along, allowing a tuneful guitar and bubbling bass through only grudgingly. "The Last Prophecy" eases in with a pretty first minute before chewing through its remaining time with all the anticipated violent theatrics. Ruled by Reason have hammered together a high energy romp in which aggressive noodling trades fire with stop-start chug-a-lugging without ever tipping the balance toward being too proggy or too Neanderthal to enjoy.

Often, _Dawning_ plays out like Mastodon and KsE swapped tour dates and tried playing each other's shows. That might result in some confused audiences, but there's no doubt that the ensuing devastation will sprout circle pits like dandelions on Miracle-Gro. Comparisons to those genre monsters, however, break down in one important aspect. While the aforementioned bands employ mountain-conquering vocal melodies that stick to listeners like a really sticky thing, Ruled by Reason have no high-caliber singer for such moments. That lack effectively means fewer memorable passages written into the music, and everything is covered with Jason Dean's strong-but-constant screech-bark. Sure, _Dawning_ is a wall-punching good time from start to finish, but little of it will follow you around afterward. That said, if the Blue Bomber ever needed an improved soundtrack for wiping up evil androids with Crash Bombs or, um, Bubbles, he would feel totally at home blasting away with _The Dawning of Dystopia_.


(article published 25/2/2011)

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