My Ruin – A Southern Revelation (self-released, 7 December 2011)
Imagine this: your band has just been offered a deal with a record label, to include help with promotion, distribution, and touring support for the new album you’ve just recorded. You’re happy with your new music and thrilled with the new contract and all the benefits that the head of the label promised you. Then suddenly, without warning, the rug gets pulled out from underneath you, and nothing is happening according to the agreement, resulting in delays to releasing your record, cancelled tourdates, huge losses in profits, and eventually, nasty messages sent through lawyers. What would you do? Run off in a corner somewhere and cry? Decide that life as a musician is too hard, and that you might as well just give up?
Well, according to southern-fried-hard-rock/alt-metal duo My Ruin, that’s exactly what happened to them, but their reaction to the situation was to write and record another whole album full of kick-ass, angry music. And then as a great big “fuck you” to the whole industry, they decided to give it away for free! Keep reading to learn more about this band, their new album A Southern Revelation, and where you can pick up a copy absolutely free of charge…
This husband and wife team, consisting of Tairrie “Mrs. M.” Murphy on vocals and Mick “Mr. M.” Murphy doing the guitars, bass, and drums, has been kicking around the hard rock/metal scene for the better part of two decades. On Revelation, their seventh full-length release, we find a pair that have become jaded by recent events as well as by many years spent in a soul-draining music industry in general; but at the same time, there’s a definite feeling that they refuse to let their love of the music itself be a casualty of the war that is being waged.
Lyrically, in a general sense this album is a scathing indictment of deceivers, false friends, and betrayers, such as references to “the unintended consequences of complicated friendships” from opener “Tennessee Elegy”; the pessimistic observation that “every friend is a future enemy” from “Desecrated”; and especially the axiom “it’s easier to forgive an enemy than a friend” from “Vultures.” This last line reminds me of the episode of (the American version of) The Office where one of the characters, Michael Scott, testifies against his company at a deposition concerning the wrongful termination of his girlfriend and former boss; after being decieved and mistreated by both sides during the proceedings, Scott ultimately changed his story to support the company’s version of events rather than his girlfriend’s. He explained this by saying, “you expect to get screwed by your company,” implying that the girlfriend’s betrayal was a more serious crime because of its source.
As might be expected, though, some parts of the album cut a little deeper than simple generalities, using some specific, personal details to refer the seething hatred toward the actual situation and individual upon whom these songs were ostensibly based. In “Middle Finger,” for example, Mrs. M. explains how they “signed a deal with the devil, then I told him to go straight to hell.” Elsewhere in the same song, she addresses the other party to this contract, telling him, “you’re all talk, but your words are empty.”
In a number of places, (including, of course, the title and the picture of a church in the artwork) religious imagery plays a major role, including the previously-quoted line comparing the record exec to the devil. Songs such as “Desecrated” and “Seventh Sacrament” also twist holy themes into a denouncement of evil and a declaration of hate, not unlike much of the figurative language used in Marilyn Manson‘s Antichrist Superstar. Finally, the religious references and personal attacks are combined, as Tiefdruck Musik owner Daniel Heerdmann is referred to by name a couple of times; at one point the words “D is for devil” are repeated, but at the last repetition the lyric changes to “D is for Daniel”; furthermore, it is implied that the label head is the title character in the song “The Soulless Beast,” which is described as being “as evil as the Book of Daniel prohesized.”
While the lyrics make it clear that this album was written from a very dark place, the vocal delivery ranges between furious screaming and near-monotone speaking. It makes sense, though, considering the amount of time it takes to record this much material. Throughout that time, a person would certainly be experiencing a variety of emotions, sometimes burning with rage and sometimes completely numb, and anywhere in between.
Musically, the album runs the gamut from early 90s alternative-metal (“Highly Explosive” starts out with a guitar riff that could easily have fit anywhere on Undertow; many of these songs share traits with the angry music of that period, ranging from Rollins Band to Slow Deep and Hard-era Type O Negative) to sludgey doom (“The Soulless Beast” is full of downtempo, death-doomesque riffs) to a southern-rock send-up of a party-metal anthem (“Walk of Shame” criticises both the L.A. Sunset Strip scene as well as the standards by which success is measured for the rock star lifestyle, adding more than a hint of twang in the riffs, leads, and the solo).
Speaking of guitar solos, nearly every song features one, and each one is a definite highlight, particularly the virtuosic fret-burner in “Tennessee Elegy.”
The album closes with a great cover of “Mean Street,” which is made over with such a hard southern vibe, I might have believed it was originally written by Alabama Thunderpussy, if I didn’t already know the original version.
In the end, this album has plenty of successful moments; while some of it might come across as narrowly focused on the band’s particular situation, it’s still vague enough to be applicable in a universal sense (for example there are no rants like the one Axl Rose delivers in the middle of “Get in the Ring,” which clearly and explicitly calls out the intended targets, thereby just serving to isolate the listeners and eliminating any sense of universality). So the appeal here goes beyond just a story about a band that has been in a contract dispute; anyone who has ever been hurt by anybody (and after all, who hasn’t?) should find something to latch onto.
If you like your music angry and your lyrics angrier; if you were a fan of the hard rock and metal scene throughout the 90’s but wish the past decade (and the whole nu-metal movement) never happened; even if you just want to support some dedicated independant artists, you owe it to yourself to give A Southern Revelation a try. Did I mention it’s free?