Phenomena review by Within the Ruins

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  • Released: Jul 22, 2014
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.1 (21 votes)
Within the Ruins: Phenomena

Sound — 9
Within The Ruins has certainly cemented themselves their genre by bucking all metalcore trends. Fans are flocking to buy their records and see them live for a number of reasons, but I appreciate them for being absolute craftsmen of their trade. Heavy detuned 7-string guitars, chest pounding drumming and ferocious vocals are something we have come to expect from these guys, but "Phenomena" is a whole new breed. Their last release titled "Elite" was the first I'd heard of them, I am very pleased to say they have exceeded my expectations. From the word go this album will knock the wind out of you, taking a break to catch a breath is to be expected.

The opening track "Gods Amongst Men" starts things off with a bang. Guttural vocals, hard hitting drums, and superb guitar playing set the stage for the rest of the album. While the guitars are some of the heaviest I have heard, there are the melodic fills that will blow you away. They are expertly placed and give the "core" sound an entirely new flavor. Track 2 titled "The Other" only furthers the melodic guitar structure and also features a rib fracturing breakdown. They play 7 stings tuned to G# (yes that is LOW), but the riffs are not centered around the tap chugging a number of their contemporaries have fallen into. Each track also features some kind of electronic backing or fill. This only adds to the dynamic sound created by the guitars. If any band is employing electronics and doing it right, it's Within The Ruins. As harsh as the vocals are at times, I find that I can understand the majority of what the vocalist is saying. Recording quality is fantastically engineered. The sound is expertly mixed and sounds larger than life. The album also features 2 instrumentals that display in full form the talent these guys bring to the table. "Enigma" and "Ataxia III" are both in their own right the best songs on the album from a composition standpoint. I cannot say enough about how awesome the album sounds through a great set of speakers, headphones are okay but the megalithic sound just does not translate through headphones.

Lyrics — 7
The lyrics run the scale from introspective to social commentary. This excerpt from the other clearly displays an internal struggle. "I've never felt so alive / was nothing until I found my other half, my missing parcel / Crept into the deep of my mind a villain's strength now amplified / To know us is to love us / Welcome to serenity / Welcome to our complexity."

"Clockwork" is an awesome example of the social issues plaguing society today. "The gutters are full of blood/from the sex, scum, politics, and whores/Like a beaten child this city/whimpers backed into a corner with no one to save it/Judgement will come not, but with a nuclear blast. /This utopia was built on horror/It's all so confusing, but yet so simple/The American Dream is condemned/and we're all going down."

As I stated before, the singer is very talented and I can make out a great deal of what is being said unlike a lot of metal these days.

Overall Impression — 8
I don't really know of a current band that compares well to the sound Within The Ruins brings to the table. In some aspects I hear a lot of After The Burial inspired guitar riffs and fills. Other aspects remind me of the older mathcore sounding bands like Norma Jean except with a more polished and refined sound. The use of keys and electronics definitely defines the sounds, but does not replace the necessary chops to play the caliber of guitar needed to drive the songs. "Gods Amongst Men" is probably my favorite track behind "Ataxia III," but I genuinely love every song from beginning to end. There is no filler tracks or tracks I feel the need to skip to get to a better song. If it were lost I would not waste a breathe and buy it again. If you are hesitant about buying the album or think my review has been one of a fanboy, look up "Ataxia III" on YouTube and draw your own conclusions. I bet a paycheck you won't be disappointed.

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Not a word about how overproduced this thing is? The guitars are so edited they sound like a Guitar Pro soundbank, and they could have used a machine for the drums and nobody would notice. This would have been so much more awesome if everything wasn't so damn sterile.
    I was literally right about to bring that up. These guys have become the Pam Anderson of metal, "djent" whatever you wanna call it
    Yeah, that turned me off immediately. The guitar tone isn't terrible, but it easily sounds like they could have programmed most of it (and no one would have noticed).
    You forgot to mention the easter egg in Enigma, which are melodic references to the Inspector Gadget theme and Super Mario theme.
    The band plays G# on a 6 string. They play in a tuning known as C F C F A# D G on the 7 string. Also the lyrics are primarily based on comics that the lead singer Tim is a fan of.
    insanitybreed The guitars didn't sound out of tune to me
    And i don't think that the guitars they use are that heavy after all, probably just the usual guitars.
    detuned may have not been the right word to use to describe the lower than normal tuning of a standard 6 or 7 string guitar
    This and Fallujah are my favorite technical metal releases this year. The new Wretched album is pretty good too. I don't mind the production.. I've become used to it because it's similar to other bands such as Born of Osiris.
    i love born but like a lot of these newer bands, the guitars don't even sound like guitars anymore. so sterile and processed. no raw tone
    This deserves way more than a 6.5. I thoroughly enjoyed this album, even compared to their older releases. The only real complaints I see are about the sterile guitar tone, and if that's enough to keep you from listening to an awesome album, you should re-evaluate why you listen to music in the first place.
    Yeah... no. Mastodon's Once More Around the Sun? An example of great metal production. Surgical Steel by Carcass? An example of great metal production. Phenomena by Within The Ruins? An amazing example of how terrible production can ruin an otherwise good record. The kind of production that Within The Ruin has gone with on this album is the metal equivalent of autotune and it hurts the album for anyone who isn't tone deaf or a fanboy. I listen to music that sounds good to my ears and Within The Ruins' Phenomena sounds like shit to my ears because of the terrible production. You probably like the record because of the music, but the production is so bad, it completely hurts the music for me. Too much bass in "heavy" parts, the drums sound digital, and the guitar tone sounds, like others say, completely sterile (which is ridiculous, since Within The Ruins' guitar player is an amazing player). Remember that video that was on the front page a few weeks back that had that metal producer talking about how terrible metal production has come? Well, this album is a perfect example of what that guy was complaining about. Here's the video...
    Hey, I never claimed the production on this was to my tastes. I actually agree with your examples. Anyway, my only point here was that, while production plays a role, an album should be listened to for the music rather than just production alone. All I see is people discussing the production, no one talking about the songs themselves. Guess it matters more to some than others, if I knew anything about audio engineering I may think differently.
    Ever since Invade things have definitely taken a turn for the worse
    I have to admit, I have never been a particular fan of this band but strangely the production gives a smooth tone that is relatively listenable, vocals are fairly standard "core" affair but it's not actually too bad overall. I don't have too much reference of their old stuff to compare but the 2 videos above aren't bad. 7/10 on first impressions.
    Did anyone recognize either the Super Mario Bros. or the Inspector Gadget theme in Enigma (track 6)?
    i've been a fan of within the ruins since creature, which i think is still their best album despite the shitty vocals. the new album just isn;t cutting it for me. its literally more of the same ol' riffs, breakdowns, and song structures. if you heard elite or invade you have heard this record already. the only track that really stood out to me was the first single and opener gods amongst men. the rest has a been there done that meh feeling. i barely even play it, only occasionally, and when i do, i get bored with it very quickly and change to something else.