Within the Ruins
03. Feeding Frenzy
04. New Holy War
05. The Charm
06. Ataxia II
08. I, Blaspheme
09. Absolute Hell
It should come as no surprise to fans of Within the Ruins that their most recent album, Elite, is the epitome of “Riff City”. The band’s third major label full length doesn’t reinvent the wheel they rolled in on with 2009’s Creature, but rather continues rolling on it remaining in the comfort lane the whole time. By incorporating new tunings, an even more technical approach to song writing, and little gimmicks like Gojira/Morbid Angel-esque pick scrapes, they have given themselves a little more reason to remain relevant continuing on with their signature sound.
Within the Ruins have never had any reason to stray far from that sound, seeing as they’re about the only band that sound the way they do. Elite features the finger mangling riffs you’ve loved since you first heard them, and sometimes goes beyond anything they’ve done in terms of technicality. Songs like ‘The Charm’ show this all too well, the riffs hit you from the get go and never give you room to catch your breath. The ending of said song is probably the best example of the stop and go riffing they’re so popular for; sounding like something off of a Tetris soundtrack. Lead off single ‘Feeding Frenzy’ only sets the stage, but gives you a solid basis for the over the top guitar work heard throughout this monster of an album. Vocalist Tim Goergen belts out his lines as well as any, though does nothing to set himself apart in the scene, resulting in a “more of the same” situation, and Drummer (yes, the drummer is just called Drummer) shows again that he can keep up with guitarist Joe Cocchi’s riffs hit for note. Elite even features something not often seen in bands that don’t do concept style albums: sequel songs. Namely ‘Ataxia II’ which features many melodies that share extreme resemblance to guitar melodies in the original ‘Ataxia’ from Invade. ‘New Holy War’ even seems to be a small play on Creature’s song ‘Holy Mess’.
All of this praise does not mean that Elite is a perfect album by any means. The lack of variety in the sounds and style can get tiring to some listeners, and the production, being as absolutely flawless as it is, can be a bit much on the ears after extended listening. The snare drum sounds like it’s been compressed many times over, making it lose any of the natural buzz you’d hear from the wires, the kick drum can sometimes bury the guitars, and a good few of the songs start with a single guitar riff under a filtering effect, which just seems a bit lazy in terms of song intros. All that aside, one would be hard pressed to find an album this year with more pristine production than Elite, save for maybe the new Killswitch Engage album. Everything on this album is powerful, the guitars sound absolutely gorgeous, the kick drum hits like a freight train.
Within the Ruins have a good thing going for them right now; technical metal is at an all time high in popularity, and they have the potential to be one of the big names in the style if they did a bit of branching out in terms of their sound. The biggest problem is their tendency to play it safe, which they most definitely have done with Elite. Closing track ‘Dreamland‘ shows that they have it in them to diversify and experiment, with a small mellow section and acoustic guitar layers. Playing on these kind of things could help add even more interest to their sound in the future, and hopefully will.