ALBUM REVIEW: Blame Kandinsky – ‘Eclectic Ruiner’

Artwork for Blame Kandinsky’s ‘Eclectic Ruiner’ - a woman’s head with the skull partly exposed, and cutouts of birds and leaves emerging from it.

What’s Kandinsky to blame for? He himself stated music’s influential role in his painting, and vice versa. Is the artist’s pioneering abstraction an annoyance to the band, or instead an inspiration for their brand of energetic mathcore? Hopefully the latter, and if we can blame Kandinsky for this outfit’s existence, so be it. Thanks Wassily.

While mathcore generated a wealth of hype and talent at the start of the century, spearheaded by godheads like Botch or Converge, it seemed to peter a little once The Dillinger Escape Plan signed off on a career high. A brief genre hiatus later, we now have such bands as Atlanta’s sporadic The Callous Daoboys, and the more post-hardcore inclined Blame Kandinsky. Hailing from Athens, their debut was recorded completely live to capture their technical ability and furious punk-steeped delivery. Five years later, this effort throws us headfirst into the maelstrom once more.

The four-piece have pondered the difficulty of everyday life itself since the pandemic outbreak, from greater society to the minutiae, resulting in the emphatically named Eclectic Ruiner. Some to-the-point one word title seems apt, and Vague is an instant adrenaline boost filled with shifting discords and pummelled snares and bass drums, achieving the same sound and effect as TDEP’s legendary Fix Your Face opener to Ire Works. The same can be said of the ever-changing ripper Ruined (which features a groovy stampede riff at the 90-second mark with blistering toms) or the sneering intro to Empty.

It’s not all about visceral attack; the tinkling, rampaging riffs do move at a blistering pace when they’re meant to, but hold back with select chord sequences sometimes. Best exemplified on Discomfort—the group toy with melody, not just through snappy note passages and quick-shifting power chords. Due to some stellar production, no element of this equation sounds messy. The instruments are a thunder and lighting show surrounding Stratos Isaakidis’ shouted performance. Far more in line with melodic hardcore vocals, they craft an atmosphere of sweaty clubs rather than nerdy basement math-rock, and don’t lean into the skrams-style we have been treated to by The Fall Of Troy. For those wondering if breakdowns occur, they do, tastefully, in that atypical way that more chug-hungry bands cannot achieve.

Eclectic Ruiner, in fitting with the genre, is bereft of choruses. Instead, it’s passage after passage bouncing off of one other, often within the same song. The album’s variation is its best quality; just once you’ve got your head around an experimental jazz section (see; Gertrude or Lisp), you’re having to face a barrage of ricocheting precision drumming and clashing guitars. Memorable air guitar inducing moments are all over the house. And with tracks varying from the 55-second interlude of Piquerism to cuts well over the five-minute mark, it gives the group moments to regain their breath, and the listeners’ breaths, while still filling the more ‘relaxing’ spaces with thoughtful instrumentals.

The changing time signatures, often without a moment’s notice, are a tough genre trope to pull off so seamlessly. It all seems in a day’s work for a band who sound as in-tune with each other’s ballistic musical mastery as the best of their forebears. With the world opened up fully, Blame Kandinsky can share their everyday frustrations with the bar stages that are meant to host them. Let Eclectic Ruiner’s riffs take you for a wild ride, it’s worth the mind being boggled and the subsequent headaches. Good headaches.

For fans of: Frontierer, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Chariot

‘Eclectic Ruiner’ by Blame Kandinsky is released on 2nd December on Venerate Industries.

Words by Elliot Burr

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