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.