By Ken Tucker
Inquirer Popular Music Critic
| One of the most promising young bands on the local scene is Ruin, an altogether original quintet whose music is both challenging and enjoyable. Ruin's performance Thursday night at the East Side Club suggested that this ambitious group is onto something new - a striking synthesis of rock styles.
The volume and vehemence of most of Ruin's music aligns the band with the Philadelphia hard-core punk scene, but this is not a clutch of hoods yammering about anarchy and beer. On the contrary, Ruin propounds an aggressively thoughtful philosophy with roots in a clear-eyed, unsentimental Eastern mysticism.
At its shows, the group goes so far as to pass out handsome little booklets that contain such earnest nuggets as "the wars, pollution and evil in this world are a result of people's arrogance." At the East Side Club, the band dressed entirely in white and placed prayer candles around the stage and on the dance floor.
As someone who usually finds such obtrusive gestures corny or pretentious, I was surprised to hear how successffully Ruin managed to combine harsh music with a lucid spiritualism. Ruin's East Side Club show was pace for drama and tension - quick, abrasive songs frequently gave way to startlingly quiet codas, with vocalist Vosco Thomas singing lyrics a capella.
On Ruin's new album, "He-Ho" (Red), there is a song called "Dionysian" that neatly summarizes many of the band's concerns. Latching onto terms normally reserved for literary criticism, Thomas intones, "We are not Apollonian / We are Dionysian." Ruin understands that Apollonian art is work that is meticulous, controlled, reserved; by contrast, Dionysian art is characterized by abandon and frenzy.
By associating itself with a sensualism guided by spiritual thinking, Ruin has come up with exciting music that ought to make local listeners do some thinking of their own.
- Ken Tucker, Philadelphia Inquirer. 198?