Monday, March 19, 2007

The Legacy Of Rune

The year 2004 was a strange time for me. I changed musically as a person for a couple of different reasons. In 2003, I had just gotten exposed to Cradle Of Filth, Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage and Lamb Of God, and now the internet could finally connect me with music I liked. Being from a small town, I didn’t actually know how much of these bands were on the rise, I mean, back in 2003 if I name dropped Lamb Of God in the local CD shop in town while talking to some Slipknot kids, they’d tell me I was listening to “Satanic cookie-monster death metal”.

The appeal to me about metalcore (and a few other bands that socialize with metalcore) was that I was really into a modernized version of thrash throughout the 90's, like early Machine Head for instance. My interpretation was that a lot of bands such as Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, and a few others had heavy thrash influences. I know I’ve read in a lot of places where all those bands have mentioned 80's thrash as a heavy influence on them, of course you could also say that I might have been modifying my personal rules to allow myself to like those bands, since I was pretty closed minded at the time.

When I saw a lot of the bands I was into quickly go on the rise in 2004, I was pulled in two directions. On one hand, I thought it was really cool that music as heavy as metalcore was getting a lot of exposure. At the same time I was seeing a lot of clone bands, and the same people who told me I me that Lamb Of God was “Satanic cookie-monster death metal” came back saying they were listening to Lamb OF God before everyone else was when they were Burn The Priest.

When trends are in the process of changing, it’s often the people who were completely ignoring trends to play whatever they wanted who catch on. I certainly felt some connection to the modern music that was getting bigger, I really felt like I was into something a long time before anyone was else was in town, and nobody got it. Then of course I was watching bands get on labels during the huge melodic metalcore signing binge in 2004 putting out emotionless cloned music. Metalcore wasn’t just hijacked by the former nu-metal posers in town; it become a wide spread phenomenon in Canada in the US that still exists right now.

I had ended up soaking up tons of melodic metalcore releases with no regard to how creative the bands were, and I certainly felt burnt out after a bit. How many albums could I get that were just cheap clones of the real thing? I decided to let go of my special rules for thrash and metalcore and focus a bit more on some more creative stuff. I ended up looking a lot more at death metal, a genre that I had previously blown off by adopting many of the same stereotypes to it that people basically applied to me. I also gave a lot of other genres in the world of extreme music a try, especially a lot more experimental stuff. It felt pretty cool to find some really weird band that no one else knew about, and know they wouldn’t get it. I took in a lot of personal joy to go out digging hard for obscure bands, playing music that was strange not for the sake of being weird; it was just weird because they played whatever the hell they felt like.

I read about Rune at Metal Review, gave the mp3s on their web page and Willtips web page as well. On a whim, I picked up “The End Of Nothing” when I saw it sitting on the rack at the CD shop in town. It was an unexpected sight to see a band so experimental somehow land on the shelves in a CD store in a small conservative Canadian city in Ontario. Who in the company wanted to have CDs landing in a place where under normal circumstances wouldn’t sell?

"The End Of Nothing" By Rune

It turned out to be a lucky break that the 2003 album “The End Of Nothing” by Rune ended up in the CD shop, and that I picked it up on a whim. I ended up playing that album so many times, getting to know it from front to back, a lot of times in the dark in my room before I fell asleep (it usually takes me a least an hour to fall asleep).

Describing what Rune plays is a difficult task. I can tell you what they play and what they do, but it still fails to capture what they sound like when an album of theirs leaves the speakers and gets received by your eardrum. The best thing I can say is that they play a metalgaze (similar to Neurosis), keyboards and samples and all. They employ two harsh vocalists who “harmonize” often. It reminded me slightly of Cradle OF Filth, but in a more death/grind/hardcore vein. Mix that all together with some of a death metal and grind mix, of songs flowing from slow calm motion, to a much quicker pace. It’s a weird combination that works extremely well. They even made the drums weird by playing the slowest blast beats I’ve ever heard. Fast enough to be considered a blast beat, yet slower than any blast I’ve heard from early death metal bands. It’s tough to describe because those blast beats happen at a mid-paced/quick tempos. That sounds about as close as I can get to properly describing the album “The End Of Nothing” by Rune. If you can get into that album, it’s like an experience to a whole other world, being more intense than watching Apocalypse Now.

I had a bit of difficulty digging up the earlier releases by Rune. They released their first self-titled EP in 2000 through Clean Plate/Crucial Blast, and a split with Kalibas in 2003 through Relapse. “The End OF Nothing” was released in 2003 through Willowtip. Being the first full-length and the release that most people think of when they think of Rune, Willowtip was the official record label for Rune. Being officially on Willowtip during the early days of the label, Rune fell victim to the early Willowtip curse. In case you’re wondering, the curse of being signed to Willowtip early usually ends up with a band breaking up, although the curse seems to have lifted since Willowtip got a lot bigger and started signing bands that were a bit more “normal” sounding, as opposed to the much more experimental bands on the earlier Willowtip roster.

As a final homage to the band (or something like that, or for all I know a final cash grab... whatever...) Willowtip re-released “The End Of Nothing” in 2004 with some bonus tracks, three of them being live tracks, and one being an unreleased recording.

The legacy of Rune lives on in the bands they formed afterwards. Ultralord was one band rumoured to have a member of Rune in the band, although it’s a bit unconfirmed (perhaps he was in Rune before Rune was signed)? Ultralord was some extremely angry, hatefu,l sludgey doom, who released an EP and a full-length in 2006 before breaking up. Some of the members moved on to a band called Necrodamus.


A highly regarded instrumental band called Kenoma contains three members of Rune in it’s ranks. Kenoma put out a split with a very notable band, also featuring a Rune member.

Mouth Of The Architect

Mouth Of The Architect is a metalgaze band that went over extremely well, and may have actually gained more popularity than Rune. Rune bass player Dave Mann went to play drums in this band. So far they’ve released two full lengths and a split with Kenoma, all through Translation Loss. All of their releases so far have gained a lot of critical acclaim, even appearing on some year-end lists.

Rune and info (such as mp3s nd reviews) for “The End Of Nothing” At Willowtip
You can find an mp3 for the S/T EP by Rune on the mp3 page at Clean Plate
Rune At Metal-Archives
Ultralord At Metal-Archives
Kenoma At MySpace
Kenoma At Metal-Archives
Kenoma At Translation Loss
Mouth Of The Architect At MySpace
Mouth Of The Architect At Metal Archives
Mouth Of The Architect At Translation Loss



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