Sentient Ruin Laboratories, the Bay Area-based label who trades in everything from caustic war metal to blackened industrial, has had an absolute deathgrip on my listening habits as of late. I listen to a lot of different music from a lot of different places on a daily/hourly/minute-by-minute basis, but it seems that every other release that's been standing out to me these days has been released bearing the label's ominous double-headed sigil. While I'm not sure what exactly the first Sentient Ruin release was that made me stop and investigate the rest of their prolific output (it was probably Diabolic Oath or Profane Order), I know that I've been an avid fan for a while now who ravenously anticipates every new release.
With that in mind, I thought it'd be fun to do a little label spotlight this week and give y'all a little "four-albums-for-the-price-of-one" special. Sentient Ruin is still a pretty young label but their release list is already vast, so trust me when I say that it was extraordinarily difficult to narrow this list down to just four recommendations, but these are all quality albums that I give my highest recommendation. Let's get started!
Ceremonial Bloodbath – The Tides Of Blood
If you wanted to be boring about it I suppose you could call the kind of oppressive, maniacal music that Ceremonial Bloodbath makes "blackened death metal", but I choose to refer to it as "war-adjacent". No, the band doesn't blast relentlessly and exclusively write songs about war/traitors/cowards/power/etc. the way that real McCoy war metal bands like Revenge and Diocletian do, but their approach to metal carries just enough of that flavor to keep those bands not too far from your mind. The war metal aspect is more of a vibe thing than anything else – strictly musically speaking, this is gloriously menacing and twisted death metal that's just unapproachable enough to scare away the youtube deathcore dorks while retaining all the insane soloing and brow-lowering doom parts necessary to win over your average Deicide and Mortician fans. Excellent shit.
Black Fucking Cancer – Procreate Inverse
I think this marks the very first time in this column that I've written about a release from this year! Thrilling stuff, I know. You know what's way more thrilling, though? This Black Fucking Cancer record. Holy shit. This is an absolute masterclass in how to write a lasting and memorable black metal album. There isn't a single second wasted on this thing – every moment of Procreate Inverse is packed asshole-to-eyelids with ferocious, virtuosic riffing that feels simultaneously sprawling and immediate. It's an ambitious effort that pulls no punches and accepts nothing other than the worship and exaltation of pure evil. Some of the very first lyrics that are going to jump out at you when you press play on this thing are "EVOKE CHAOS", and what a fitting slogan for Black Fucking Cancer. Chaos reigns above all else here, and no one else is wielding that energy quite like this band.
Disimperium – Malefic Obliteration
The fact that Disimperium only has 12 minutes of recorded music available is utterly criminal. How are you going to drop a 7" like Malefic Obliteration on us and not have an LP in the chamber to land the killing blow with? While I certainly hope that a full-length is on the way from these maniacs, I've comfortably settled into a routine of listening to this record multiple times in a row at least once a month. It's truly that good. Blackened, grinding death metal with an abyssic atmosphere and more bent notes than a (space reserved for when I come up with a good bent note metaphor). Keep an eye on this band, seriously. Very, very promising stuff here.
Atrament – Scum Sect
I almost never see anyone mention this band these days, which is a damn shame because they really tapped into something special with their particular brand of blackened d-beat insanity. Maybe it's because its members went on to be in other notable Bay Area bands like Vastum, Necrot and Mortuous, but regardless, if you like your metal fast, grimy and totally nihilistic, Atrament is the band for you. It's got the d-beat stylings you'd expect from genre forebearers like Discharge and about three dozen other Dis- bands, but Atrament injects this tried-and-true formula with a heaping dose of black metal malice that calls to mind bands like Craft and Funeral Mist. I'm amazed that "blackened d-beat" isn't something that more bands have been trying out after listening to how sick this band was. If you're an aspiring riffer and that seems at all enticing to you, this is your call to pick up your guitar and get to work.