The message from Thirteen Goats’ “Return to Ruin” is as clear as it is unrelenting: sometimes, to get a fresh start, you have to blow everything the fuck up and then crawl out of the rubble to start anew.
And by blowing up, we’re talking complete and utter annihilation—like planet Earth in The Terminator after Skynet destroys everything but the cockroaches, Keith Richards, and the great prophet John Connor.
Featuring top-shelf manga-indebted animation from Frank Hisashi, and directed by Marvin Camalich, the video for “Return to Ruin” is, depending on one’s perspective, either a call to arms or a reason to give up all hope.
Things start with what looks like three members of the Grim Reapers Platinum Club gathered around a floating planet Earth encircled—or choked—by what may or may not be a giant tree root. Five seconds later we’re watching Thirteen Goats rage away on an animated old-school television set half-buried in a blacktop road, a city in apocalypic ruins in the background.
Over the four savage, red-lined minutes that follow, the Vancouver three-piece gives every indication that it ticks the “none of the above” box when its time to hit the voting booth. Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden, and Justin Trudeau all make animated appearances, sometimes with devil horns and red glowing eyes, at others flicking hideously serpentine tongues while spewing green bile.
Thirteen Goats pledges allegiance to classic death metal on the sonic side of things, but there’s also a undeniable power-groove to “Return to Ruin”. Think Vulgar Display of Power-era Pantera in a cage match with Cannibal Corpse and Ministry.
There’s something about “Return to Ruin” that also suggests an indebtedness to politically aware punk. Take note of the suits wearing demonic ram skulls in front of riot-shield-sporting police. And listen as singer vocalist-guitarist Graham K. Miles—sounding like the demon Agares chewing off his own testicles—shrieks lines like “Lies were used to build this nation/You call that civilization”.
If the frontman sounds endlessly outraged, that’s with good reason. Miles's family background in Ukrainian, drummer Leonid Verman is from St. Petersburg, and bassist Cody Lewichew's family ancestry is Russian.
Given that, think of “Return to Ruin” as a call to action, not just in Eastern Europe, but globally.
“All of us are against the war and against people who use power unjustly,” Miles says. “This song is intended to be a call to arms—a protest anthem that invites listeners to question authority figures and the systems they’ve set up, and to burn those systems down if they’re not working so we can start over with something better.”
Need further reason to wake up, get involved, and grab a jerry can of gas? Read the following manifesto from Miles as you crank “Return to Ruin” while wondering if, maybe, we might all be better off blowing up everything and starting over. Keeping in mind we’d still have both the cockroaches and Keith Richards.
“Return to Ruin came from a place of deep anger “with a number of institutions and systems that I feel are failing the current generation—predominantly governments and large corporations that are waging war, both literally and economically, against everyday people around the world. From the widespread mismanagement of a global pandemic to increasing wealth inequality, an ongoing environmental crisis, a rising tide of political extremism, and now a new Cold War with Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, we are living in the midst of extremely dark times—and the people who are supposed to shepherd us through them seem to be leading us to the slaughterhouse instead of towards greener pastures.”
Thirteen Goats' debut album, Servants of the Outer Dark, will be released on July 1.