01. I'm Out
02. Dead Weight
03. Two Words
04. Part One
05. Part Two
06. Convenient Gods
08. Loneliest of Hearts
2009 Bridge Nine Records
There's a lot to like about the Ruiner formula. While it doesn't necessarily put pressure on the hardcore genre's limitations, the Baltimore group's ability to rip through short, fast, and memorable anthems is certainly worth noting. Couple that with some impressively apathetic and cynical lyrics and you've got an extremely capable modern hardcore band on your hands.
As for the differences between Ruiner's debut full-length, Prepare to Be Let Down, and Hell Is Empty, it's clear that the guys are starting to stretch themselves creatively, resulting in slightly longer tracks with a touch more variety. Brevity is still the name of the game here, but a few more songwriting tricks -- the lengthy bass intro of "Part One" or the slower guitar hooks in "Convenient Gods" are both great examples -- allow the band to develop a few individual tracks into something a bit more expansive than their standard 90 second, balls-to-the-wall recipe.
Some praise is also in order for Rob Sullivan and his ability to deliver an abundance of sharp, poignant vocal lines over the course of the record. When nailed rhythmically, excerpts like "Hello you fuckers, you assholes, you social rejects" in "Two Words" and "I was born a fortunate son / But I learned early on if you want to live you got to suffer / You got to be willing to bleed" in "Dead Weight" are both catchy and instantly memorable. At the end of the day, there's just not a lot of differentiation in the instrumentation of the middle 80% of straightforward hardcore bands, so having a guy like Sullivan contributing quality lyrical content is a big plus.
From a high level, even though Ruiner's Hell Is Empty is an extremely solid record that shows some good progression since Prepare to Be Let Down, it probably isn't going to blow the minds of any groups outside of the enthusiastic Deathwish/Bridge 9 demographic. But hey, that's not really a knock in any way, as the band's obvious aptitude for hardcore fundamentals suggests that they're perfectly happy in the genre in which they operate. If you're into crisp sounding modern hardcore, this is right up your alley.
Bottom Line: Hell Is Empty is another collection of fast, cynical hardcore from Ruiner. Even though it's not necessarily pushing the boundaries of modern hardcore, it is still a great showcase of their musical growth since Prepare to Be Let Down and a good example of the genre's offerings. Fans of intelligent, well-executed hardcore will love it.