So I was sitting here trying to figure out what to make of Phenomena, the latest offering from WITHIN THE RUINS, out now via eOne Music. You guys KNOW how picky I am when it comes to my metalcore/technical death, right? And what do you know? On the third listen it finally resonated with me. Now, it’s not ALL fine and dandy, mind you, as I did find one or two songs to be repetitive, but overall it’s a rock solid record with some fantastic music on it. And you can’t say they’re not working hard, what with three albums and three EPs in a rather short period of time. Plus, they have really managed to shake off a lot of that deathcore nonsense, thank the Gods. Oh, and Mini-Amps came in here and started goin’ a bit bonkers so clearly he likes it, too (ALWAYS the mark of a good record!).
Right out of the gate “Gods Amongst Men” with its carefully placed synthesizer sets more of a melodic, but by no means less brutalizing tone. Vocalist Tim Goergen is at the top of his game on this one, and the band is locked, loaded, and ready to fire. There are a lot of interesting stops and starts, and Joe Cocchi’s guitars flow smoothly, with very fluid solos. On “Clockwork” bassist Andrew Tate and Kevin “Drummer” McGuill (drums, DUH!) get one hell of a workout, sounding like there are eight arms between them as we hold on for dear life. Once again, the synth is deftly used on this album, not detracting from anything, only enhancing. The guitar work on “Dark Monarch” can only be described as insane. And by that I imagine someone sitting in a padded cell wearing a hospital gown writing these lines. Very unique and very well done!
“Sentinel” is like a hit to the head from a ten ton hammer for nearly four minutes. This one’s gonna get hairy in the circle pit, folks. I suspect “Eternal Shore” will too as it is no less pummeling. And I absolutely LOVE the back-to-back instrumentals of “Ataxia III’ and “Enigma”. Outstanding musicianship and the tightness of an old pair of Sergio Valente jeans make for two big winners here. The same can’t be said for “Hegira” as the boys find themselves doing the musical equivalent of a dog chasing its tail and on “Ronin” it just feels like they’re playing it safe compared to the rest of the record. The album finishes strong though with “The Other”, combining angry screams with smooth guitar runs and some meaty breaks and finally “Calling Card” a song about arch villain The Joker. All told Phenomena had to grow on me, as did WITHIN THE RUINS themselves. I’m glad I stuck with it though, because I will definitely be checking out future albums from this band and now count myself a fan.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Gods Amongst Men”, “Clockwork”, “Enigma”, “Ataxia III”, “The Other”, “Dark Monarch”