Within The Ruins – Phenomena (eOne Music/Good Fight Music)

Sunday, 20th July 2014
Rating: 8/10

Within The Ruins is a band that has constantly progressed and attempted to distance themselves from the dreaded ‘deathcore’ tag. Still riding the waves of last year’s Elite, Phenomena continues further down that path and shows the band using a bit of restraint in their quest for musical maturity. Safe to say fans of previous releases will feel at home with this one, but can expect a few twists and turns along the way.

Interestingly, Phenomena is a bit of a concept album, with individual tracks focusing on different superheroes/villains (a few that come up are The Joker, Wolverine, and Spiderman). Before you bawk at the idea, know that these interpretations will not come across as contrived or hokey, but are nicely weaved in to the point that you wouldn’t necessarily know it is about a particular hero/villain. Only the instrumental “Enigma” will draw any sort of deja-vu, with nods to Inspector Gadget.

Musically speaking, the band has focused more on massive grooves and less on burning through songs at top speed. This has given their penchant for zig-zag riffs more structure to lean into and the songs appear a bit more user-friendly and less dizzyingly complex. As the band continues to find their own path, there are also less pointless breakdowns, making sure that the ones that find their way have purpose and impact (see “Calling Card”). There are also a slew of melodic moments, best evidenced in the standout opener, “Gods Amongst Men.” Some of the melodic leads in “The Other” and “Ronin” are sure to impress, while those looking for some of the heavier groove should look to “Dark Monarch” and “Sentinel.”

A quick return after a successful album can sometimes be hit or miss. In the case of Phenomena, it’s clear the creative wheels have been turning and displays Within The Ruins in their most balanced and exciting form thus far. This is a band that just beginning to hit their stride.

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