Unruh was a hardcore band from Arizona. They formed in 1995, out of the ashes of short-lived crust thrash band Uruk'Hai. Ryan Butler, who played guitar in Uruk'Hai as well as numerous other Arizona-based hardcore bands like Lyburnum and Wellington, helped start Unruh with Uruk'Hai founder and drummer Bill Fees. They took their name from notorious murderer Howard Unruh, who killed thirteen people in one day. With the lineup completed by bassist Mike Bjella and vocalist Mike Edwards, Unruh was ready to be unleashed on Arizona and the world.

Unruh was born into a scene that the members of the band considered to be stagnant and uninteresting. They wanted to play intense, violent hardcore - but more than anything they wanted to play music that was interesting and powerful. They played music that is hard to classify into hardcore's many sub-sub-genres, but under pressure I'd call it death metal-influenced hardcore, along similar lines as their contemporaries in bands like Suicide Nation and the Tho Ko Losi.

Here is the Unruh discography (dates and labels in parantheses):

"burnedbeyondrecognition" demo (1995)
"Friendly Fire" 7 inch (1996, King of the Monsters)
Split EP with Enewetak (1996, Feast and Famine)
"Misery Strengthened Faith" LP (1997, King of the Monsters)
"Setting Fire To Sinking Ships" LP/CD (1999, Pessimiser)
Split 7 inch with Creation is Crucifixion (1999, Willowtip)

They also appeared on several compilations, such as Cry Now, Cry Later and The Seven Deadly Sins 7 inch box set. Unfortunately, the only Unruh records still in print are Setting Fire To Sinking Ships and the split with CIC. However, King of the Monsters is planning to re-release the Misery Strengthened Faith LP on CD, as well as a discograpy CD with demos and rarities. KOTM owner Mike Genz (who you can often find behind the counter at Stinkweed's in Tempe) continues to push back the release date though. Last time I talked to Ryan he said he wonders if it'll ever come out, since it always seems to be "just another week".

Unruh broke up in 2000, following an arduous full European tour. Internal problems and conflicts had been present since the band's formation, and had finally come to a head. In some ways it is sad because if anything they seemed to be at the height of their powers, but then again maybe that's the best time for a band to split up.

I loved Unruh. I thought they were one of the most creative, interesting, and unique bands I'd heard in a long time. Incredibly intense and gripping. As if that wasn't enough, they are also incredibly nice and down to earth (even more impressive considering their spiteful, violent music). Ryan and Bill now have a new band called Structure of Lies who play what has been construed as (appropriately enough) "hardcore-influenced death metal" or "death metal played by punks, instead of hessians". They play regularly around the Phoenix area and have a split CD out with east-coast grinders Iranach.

Ryan has become a good friend of mine, and is for my money one of the nicest and most honest guys in the AZ scene, which is all too often sullied by over-dramatizing and posturing.

It's bands like this that restore my faith in hardcore, and make me remember why I love listening to and playing fast, loud, angry music.

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