Within the Ruins – Halfway Human (eOne)Sunday, 19th February 2017
Within the Ruins’ last album, Phenomena, saw the band putting some distance between themselves and their deathcore brethren. Breakdowns and chugging still being a part of the band’s sound, but it seemed they were “maturing” so to speak (the unique approach to comic book characters theme didn’t hurt either). With Halfway Human, the band seems to move in a one step forward, two steps back-type of mentality.
On the up and up, Within the Ruins continues to hone and sharpen their approach. There’s a method to their madness, and they are a-okay with introducing new elements while maintaining their core sound (no pun intended). Most notable on Halfway Human is the more melodic side of the band. A number of the tracks include clean vocals from bassist Paolo Galang, along with some rather tasteful melodic leadwork (see “Sky Splitter”). Occasionally, things go too far, in the case of the more straight-forward “Objective Reality,” but for the most part this melodic angle gives the band more of a well-rounded approach. But there’s still a feral bite at times, with more burly cuts like “Bittersweet” and “Incomplete Harmony” delivering an older vibe while still incorporating newer elements. So what’s not to like? The one focus on the zig-zaggy riffs, mostly at the mid-tempo range. While distinctive to the act, there’s not much audible differentiation and it tends to be a blur. Certainly fine-tuned listeners and longtime fans can dissect them, but when they aren’t backed with significant groove it seems more like technicality for technicality’s sake.
While it’s clear Within the Ruins aren’t one to rest on their laurels, Halfway Human doesn’t seem to leave the same lasting impression that its predecessor did. Technicality is something that is often left to the eye/ear of the beholder, and while one’s take on the album may depend on the ability to swallow the more melodic elements, some of the riffs could have some extra potency with a less clinical feel.