Album Review: WITHIN THE RUINS Phenomena
In February 2013, Within the Ruins released a technical, heavy album in Elite. It's now 2014, over a year later, and we have another full-length album. This will leave one thinking that either this band is simply spamming the market with their redundant melodies, or they are really passionate and are attempting reduce the curve to make their way to the top. Well, after several listens of their newest album Phenomena, it will be clear that the latter is more accurate.
This Massachusetts based band will soon be releasing Phenomena on July 22nd. With three EPs, and three other full-length albums already under their belt, the big question is, are we going to continue to get more of the same, or is this something new? This is not to say that all of Within the Ruins' previous albums sound the same, but they all have that distinct sound and feel. This does not totally go against them, but it does not help their progression either, which is an important component to all music. There is no need to despair, Phenomena has been able to embrace their targeted sound and technique while maintaining their technical approach and heavy performance. The end result: a well refined album with more surprises than one would expect.
Phenomena has landed the band in a great position as far as growth, potential, and progress. It has enhanced on the positive attributes of Elite, and ignored their less ambitious traits. The band has included more of a melodic flow, the songs have slowed down a tinge, and each track is much more memorable. This is exhibited clearly through the chorus of "Gods Amongst Men" and the synthesizer strategically placed throughout. This denotes their mature status as a band. The ever-strengthening bass seems to be prominently heavier, and the synthesizer seems to be more cleverly used as it adds to, but does not dominate their sound.
There are portions of this album that will surely surprise. Segments of vocals are considerably deeper and contain a more pungent broadcast. The fluctuations are rare, but the instances where the vocal attacks are on display, it only reaps a more powerful affect. The band continues with their technical monologues that contain jerky guitar solos and ambient synthesized segments. The newer alterations make these classic attributes shorter in length when compared to their previous record. This positively reflects on their progression in effort to not stagnate themselves with the ominous deathcore genre so many are quick to label Within the Ruins.
A few disheartening afflictions throughout this album is almost every song has sections of filtered out effects. This was common in past releases, but Phenomena seems to have severely embraced it. This artificial, repetitive feature gets a little old, and 2014 demands something innovative, not something that copies Bury Your Dead's "House of Straw" 10 second introduction. The vocals that we labeled as surprises earlier in this review could have been more ample throughout. This would have solidified the vocalist's prominence as a real manhandling machine, but the glimpses we get in Phenomena only leaves the listener wanting more diversity.
As a whole, the album has a more cohesive approach. It's well constructed, as each song is distinctly desirable, carrying with it its own signature while encapsulating the bands original approach to retain their sound. The journey through the album will only solidify their sound with that distinguishable Within the Ruins intonation. With that in mind, given their quick turnaround period since Elite, there could have been a greater effect in progression given another year to ferment.