It was only a year ago that Within the Ruins released their junior album Elite, which was by far their most divisive work yet. Fans either loved the cut up riffing and b0unce that the album brought to the table, or they thought that the band could have focused more on the technical writing that brought them to prominence in the first place, courtesy of Invade. Now, we have Phenomena, which could very well be the cross between the gimmick/effect driven sound of Elite and the driving technical flair of Invade.
Phenomena shows Within the Ruins becoming comfortable in their niche that they established with Elite. Songs like ‘Hegira’ and ‘Clockwork’ show that they can combine the heavy bounce with riffs that engage and intrigue the listener. These are just two examples, though. The album is chock full of crushing, chopped-up breakdowns and wonky melodies that will make your head spin. ‘The Other’ and ‘Ronin’ have mind-bending, head-nodding breakdowns that can’t be touched by other bands. ‘Enigma’ and ‘Ataxia III’ are excellent instrumentals that keep pushing forward and refuse to slow down. The former has musical nods to gaming legend Mario and possibly Inspector Gadget. The latter is without a doubt the best entry in the Ataxia series so far. ‘Eternal Shore’ and ‘Sentinel’ have ignorantly heavy breakdowns that will make you want to bounce up and down wherever you may be at the time of listening. Instrumentally, this record is a driving force to be reckoned with.
Lyrically, the band have stepped up to the plate as well. All the lyrics on this album are based off of Marvel/DC comic book characters, which is a welcome change from the typical lyrical tropes of metal, while still staying within the bounds of what makes metal heavy and interesting. Front-man Tim Goergen really let’s his passion for these characters shine through as he paints lyrical pictures of them without completely alienating the members of the audience who are not familiar with the comic books they come from. ‘Calling Card’ gives a very accurate depiction of renowned evil-doer The Joker without seeming corny or unfitting. The first person perspective also really helps convey the sociopath’s inimitable personality, albeit with a lot less humor and much more dread and terror. ‘Ronin’ presents the tortured nomad that is Wolverine perfectly. His anger towards having to roam the earth without feeling the sweet embrace of death that he so longs for is palpable throughout the track. The comic book character lyrics could have turned out awfully, but thankfully they were executed well.
Within the Ruins didn’t just move forward on this album, they also took touches from their past to do so. They allowed the technical work of Invade to coalesce with the gimmick/effects driven bounce of Elite to create something memorable and huge in scope. They also took a lyrical concept that could have been terrible and instead made the words into fitting representations of their comic book counterparts. Being a superhero means looking back at your past, and making sure you use what you’ve learned to create a better world for those around you. By that criteria, it would seem that Within the Ruins have earned the right to wear the mask.
Within the Ruins – Phenomena gets…