When The Flenser announced the details of their Series One subscription, I was probably a little too eager to get it considering I was just driven by the exclusive prints for Elizabeth Colour Wheel’s Nocebo and, more importantly, the untitled Have a Nice Life record. Don’t get me wrong, I follow Flenser closely and I am rarely disappointed in their releases, but I was guaranteeing that I was getting two easily stellar records and another 6 or so that I could probably take or leave. So when the Trust Ruins came in the mail ahead of its release, I didn’t expect anything really. I just blindly redeemed the Bandcamp code and casually put it on as I headed out for the night. When I parked my car 20 minutes, later I dreaded turn it off. I was glued.
I knew I had briefly listened to All Your Sisters before, but I just couldn’t remember a damn thing. Although, maybe that was it, that it didn’t leave an impression on me. I only knew I had prior. Trust Ruins, on the other hand, makes its mark by sounding a lot like a cross between later Street Sects and Perturbator with more noise rock influence. What will immediately stand out is flashy tracks like “Power Abuse” with its high energy beat and simple call, “Pain! Fear! Power! The bullet! The bullet!” It’s easy to fall in line with that emotion as the shouted fry vocals rattle to the core. Alongside are bellowing baritone cleans and a brief keyboard appearance making the visceral experience more comparable to a emo act at times. Often layering multiple vocal tracks and adding plenty of both reverb and echo create an unstable feeling. Right after with “Your Way” shows that back alley 80’s street gang vibe with an aggressive beat and synth dive bombs as vocals have this sporadic quality. Deep, commanding, and making a mockery of the listener.
At point in the listen, I found myself asking how it was possible to have such a unified sound and atmosphere and only with later research finding its a one man act with Jordan Morrison. There’s a meticulousness that I believe only ever comes out when there’s complete artistic control, case in point being my favorite record of last year Convulsing’s Grievous. There’s no competition, no compromise, only pure expression. It’s shown clearly in the some of the more ambient tracks like “Self-Medicating” which is terrifying post-punk cacophony of tones; a baseline siren piercing the mix for the first time over powering the bass, keys, a plodding drum beat, and the scream of guitars. It only ever backs off to introduce the hushed vocals and, what can only be described as, iron clashing as if a blacksmith was in the booth. Not getting comfortable, it all grows back into that assault.
The album starts its close with “The Enabler,” bring more brighter melodies into the mix, but only just keeping that dark side at bay. Its as if all the pain from the past 30 minutes is now starting to resolve, or just enough try to move on. Although, it’s not clear until “The Deceiver” that all the physical pain might have passed, but the baggage will be carried long after.
I had a feeling that, after all was said and done, that I would find more to love than Have a Nice Life and Elizabeth Colour Wheel in this subscription. I just don’t think I was expecting to find it so soon. Trust Ruins has been such a pleasant (or unpleasant) surprise. The inclusion of a short zine as its lyric book featuring more art in the collection the album art was pulled from makes the physical release a must for Flenser fans.