Sound — 8
A lot might consider it a bold for a band to write and release a new album only a year after their previous effort. Within the Ruins managed to excite their fan base for this new album that was promised to surpass the success of "Elite."
Did they manage to topple "Elite"? Well I feel that the opinion is going to be very divided. They made a solid record but many will say it sounds too much like it's predecessor. The same effects and guitar tones are used (which I can only guess is produced by the Axe-FX II module) and the melodies that Joe (guitarist) favors are easy to find in this 11 track album.
Despite that, I do have to say that Tim's vocals have improved tremendously and Joe's guitar skills are still blazing and extravagant. The pair's cooperation gives the listener an epic and fast experience. Guitar wise, I have to say my favorite tracks are "Gods Amongst Men," "Calling Card," "Eternal Shore" and "The Other." Lyrically, I have to say "Gods Amongst Men" and "Calling Card" are my favorite.
Lyrics — 10
Tim stated that the lyrics are going to be based off of comic books of the DC and Marvel universe. I am not a comic book reader by any means but I can see that Tim left the lyrics open-ended enough so that fans can interpret the messages in their own ways. The sadistic and masochistic nature of some of the lyrics blends well with the heavy and intense guitar pieces.
Tim's singing is much more melodic and expansive in this album. He is obviously trying his best to sing along with the melodies that Joe produces on the guitar. "Gods Amongst Men" is the best example, but he also does great and diverse work in "Hegira," "The Other," "Dark Monarch" and "Eternal Shore." I have always favored Tim's vocals in the metalcore scene and I am glad to see him improving.
Overall Impression — 7
Some will say this is "Elite 2.0," and I will agree with them to some degree. Joe's guitar work unfortunately can get repetitive. The high pitched solos and extremely low rhythm sections sometimes sound copied and pasted from other songs. The solos don't always have variety and seem to follow the same patterns as songs off of "Elite." I know that this is expected of a band that only has one guitarist but I am hoping he can expand his guitar ideas in the future. This bugged me at times but "Phenomena" was still a very enjoyable album and I would buy it again if I lost it.
To me, the most impressive songs are:
"Gods Amongst Men": Awesome intro and melodic vocals
"The Other": Very well done chorus and a uniquely enjoyable rhythm section in the verses.
"Hegira": A different kind of Joe solo and nice flowing lyrics.
"Calling Card": Sadistic and fun lyrics with a nice and aggressive guitar.
"Eternal Shore": Good guitar + bass work and epic chorus.
"Dark Monarch": Great intro and lyrics detailing the dark knight.