Back in 2018 I wrote the review for Departures (see review), the second album of the guys of Downriver Dead Men Go (DDMG). I gave them a rating of 5 stars and said that I discovered another gem in the world of music.
Now, a few years later, the guys are back with another album, called Ruins. When I look at the line-up, I see a lot of changes. The only two remaining members are Gerrit Koekebakker and Michel Varkevisser, both guitar players. The new ones are Menno Kolk, bass player, Marcel Heijnen, drummer and Peter van Dijk, keyboard player. Of course I was really curious how the new music sounds, especially because I discovered a gem earlier!
The album is a bit shorter than the last one. There are also fewer songs. On the other hand, there are a few songs a bit longer than on Departures.
What can you expect from the new album, is of course the big big question? Well, here we go.
Before I tell you anything about the music, trust me, it comes to mind that the best way is using headphones, it must be a bit dark in the room where you are listening, there burns at least one candle and your mood is not the best you ever had. Why? The music and lyrics are not the most optimistic in this band, and that is totally okay.
The main theme on this album is, in my opinion, that we just ruin the world. The album title is perfectly chosen in that way. Just look at the titles of the songs, Ruins Secret, Helpless, Line In The Sand, Cruel World and The Lie all speaks for themselves.
It all starts with Ruins.
As if you are being pulled into a movie. People are talking to each other in a strange language, combined with cinematic music until really heavy guitars start playing. Directly you have the feeling you are listening to DDMG, it sounds fresh and new. It is a long song where a lot of things are happening. From heavy to fragile, you can hear it all. Lyrically the lies in the world are coming to mind. For me this song is a great way to start the album. Dark and direct with space for heavy guitars, fragile passages and a beautiful guitar solo towards the end of the song.
The second song is Secret, Koekebakker takes you by the throat with his voice. The song is menacing and profound, even cinematic. After the first song very welcome that it is in a lower gear. There is also room for a cello, if I hear it correctly. Nicely done.
The third one is Helpless. A song so incredibly beautiful because of its guitar playing. Directly David Gilmour comes to mind, and that is a compliment! The lower gear from the previous song is exactly what you get here. There is so much space for Varkevisser and his guitar, so wow, you can only wipe your tears. This is why music tells more than words, it touches you deeply.
The next one is Line In The Sand. Sounds of war are coming to you. Then softly played piano tunes, threatening. Lyrically it is all about war. Why do people treat each other in this way, what is the purpose of this? Koekebakker sings it great, fantastic emotions. Goosebumps are all over my body, and not because of enthusiasm, more of the reality that human beings can be so incredibly hard and selfish. It is all about feeling mighty evidently. This song touches me deep. Musically it is a slow one with room for beautiful guitars and keys. A splendid song because everything fits on it.
Then it is time for Cruel World, the longest track on the album. The title says enough. It starts slowly. Another time Koekebakker and his voice takes you into the journey he needs to tell you. 'The world is brought down to her knees' he sings and you feel the pain. Keys in the middle section very important. Again the band takes it's time to immerse you in their beautiful music. Slowly the guitars are taking over and post rock is all you are into. It is so amazing how they take their time to let you feel what they want you to tell with their music. This piece of music is just the gem of the album, everything you want from a song is in this one, just magic!!!
The album closer is The Lie. It is the shortest song of the album and a good one to close. It deals with depression, sung by Koekebakker. Slowly the album fades into nothing and I had to take a deep breath. It is not that good with the world, if we have to believe DDMG. And I am afraid they do not lie with their critical lyrics.
The conclusion for me is that the band delivers another album that is top notch. More cohesive then it's previous one. It is also darker and heavier, but still post rock as only DDMG can play. The band has risen to another level and I can only give a compliment for that, because the bar to raise was absolutely high. Every song is an adventure on its own and all songs make the circle complete and tells the story that needed to be told. That this album is only 43 minutes long is possibly the only point of criticism, but I can forgive the guys. I only bow my head and say: thank you for another gem!
***** Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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