Album Review: Ruin

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The Amazing Devils in the forest – and they definitely don’t look like they’re going to murder you. Mathew Foster via the amazing devils

The Amazing Devil’s new album absolutely Ruins our A&C writer

Do you ever find something that speaks to the very essence of who you are so deeply that it engraves itself into your very bones and refuses to let go? Something that seems to call to you in the dead of night when you have yet to accept that you are truly and completely alone? When you stand on the threshold between submitting to the fact that you are irredeemable and holding out hope, just for one more minute, that you can still be good? If you’re like me and relate to all of that, let me introduce you to the Amazing Devil.

The Amazing Devil is a band composed of Madeleine Hyland and Joey Batey. You may recognize Joey Batey as the “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” guy from Netflix’s The Witcher. The genre of their music is described as lyrical alt-folk – or what I like to call it, emotional catharsis. Many of The Amazing Devil’s songs are written by Batey and performed and produced by both Batey and Hyland. On top of that, Batey performs many of the instrumentals for the songs. They released their first album, Love Run, in 2016.

I discovered The Amazing Devil in the spring of 2020, and to say I am a different person because of their music would be an understatement. When I first heard their second album The Horror and the Wild, I finally had a moment of quiet. All the panic and all the thoughts in my head stopped just for a moment, just for the music that cut through it all.

They released their third album, Ruin, on October 31, 2021. Within the last month since the album has been released, I have not listened to a single song that is not on that album. If Spotify Wrapped didn’t stop counting in November, I would’ve broken mine.

Despite listening to this album for over a month, I still don’t know all the words. And even the words I do know come up with new meaning, new context, and new feeling every time I hear them. I certainly don’t know what all the lyrics mean – but also, it feels like there’s a piece of me, deep down, that I buried a long time ago, that knows exactly what each word means. There is a piece of me that tries to dig up its own grave every time I listen to their music, and I let it – because when I hear the songs, how could I stop it?

The album opens with “Secret Worlds.” It has a steady drum beat and a melody that makes you want to scream alone in the woods. It’s a perfect opening to make you feel transported into the world of Ruin. It has the energy of a child who fought so hard to climb to the top of the tree to call out to the world that they did something impossible, only to fall and shatter; and who, after they shattered, wasn’t the same child anymore and they carried the weight of all their pieces until they were an adult.

Next up is “The Calling” – my first cry of the album, but certainly not my last. It’s hard to encapsulate the overall ouch factor this song has, but it is a good hurt. I spend a lot of time burying my feelings because I’m afraid of who I might be when I let myself feel, but this song breaks down all of those boundaries. It creates this rare safe space that allows me to feel without consequence. I have spent the last month haunted by the lines “I tried, I really fucking[AD1]  tried” and I encourage you to also spend your time haunted by those words.

The next one is fun. It’s called “Drinking Song for the Socially Anxious.” Parties are scary and give me major anxiety and “Drinking Song for the Socially Anxious” encapsulates that perfectly. It has a needed balance to the tears shed right before “The Calling.” and the lines “I don’t find this easy like you” are pure brilliance. The number of times people have told me that talking to people is easy is unmeasurable, and to hear the absurdity of that statement so clearly reflected was immediate catharsis.

Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try you are destined to fail, and the universe has predetermined this outcome for you? Introducing the next song on the album, “Blossoms”: I listen to this song every day. Do I know what it’s about? No, absolutely not. Does the line “as I make myself acquainted with the saint of never getting it right,” punch me in the gut every day? Yes, and I still listen to it every day. The very essence of who I am vibrates in tune with this song when it plays. I have never experienced the same feeling that I do when I listen to this song at any other point in my life and I do not believe I ever will.

I’m going to keep my review of “Chords” very brief because if I think too deeply about this song, I will sob. I’ve already cried twice writing this. The song is about children growing up and leaving their parents’ home. It is good. It is so good. There are so many emotions and I just need you to trust me on how good it is.

The penultimate song of Ruin, “The Old Witch Sleep and the Good Man Grace,” is a total of nine minutes long – and it is nine minutes of divine glory in song form. It starts as this soft ballad and then it lets loose. It feels like a prison built of bones shattering. It is beautiful, it is haunting, it is powerful, and it is freeing. There is so much power in every word, in every sound, in every glorious second of this song.

The chorus says, “You are in the earth of me / My head’s not yours it’s mine,” and may I respectfully say, holy shit? And for a double holy shit moment: “You’re brave because they broke you. / Yet broken, still, you breathe.” It feels like taking an icepick to a mountain and hitting the exact spot needed to cause an avalanche. Broken things can still work. It seems like the opposite of the definition, but broken things can still work. And this song screams it into the marrow of my bones and refuses to let go.

There are two remaining songs on Ruin: “Ruin” and “Inkpot Gods.” “Ruin” is currently sitting at my most played song on Spotify and “Inkpot Gods” is my personal favourite song from the entire album. And that is why I will not spoil it for you, dear reader.

Take all of these songs as they are, come up with your own interpretations, but allow them to take you on a trip and trust that you will not be the same when you return.

Ruin is an album about rejecting who you are and yet accepting the change you are going through. It’s about hope for who you become and creating your own legend. It’s about believing that those around you are enough, and maybe, just maybe, eventually believing it about yourself, too.

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