WithinEliteWithin The Ruins have seen many band members come and go over the years, they’ve won and lost record label support, but still, they’ve pushed forward never giving in.  Their 2010 release ‘Invade’ found the band expanding from the melodic death metal roots and expanding their sounds to include elements of extreme tech/math metal and a pinch of industrial.  The result was still uncompromising, but far more assured – even slicker (a relative term here, of course).  With this album, it seemed very much as if years of hard work had paid off and Within The Ruins had truly arrived.  If anything, this, their third full length album (and sixth release overall), improves on that…

Starting off with a short djent instrumental showcasing a particularly chuggy guitar tone, ‘Terminal’ sets the mood, before lauching into ‘Solace’ – an uncompromising mix of intense metal riffing, triggered drums (used sparingly) and melodic death metal vocalising.  The overall heaviness – somewhere between the metal of Lamb of God and the full-on djent sounds of many a band on Basick Records – is given some slight relief thanks to a melodic chorus fighting its way from beneath the layers.   While not as technically inspiring as some of the material that follows, this allows each of the band members (barring bassist Andrew Tate, whose best efforts are often swamped by a wall of djenting guitars) to show off their combined skills.  If you dig this, you’ll absolutely love the rest of the album.

A follow up to a composition from 2010, ‘Ataxia II’ is slightly surprising at the outset as Joe Cocci indulges in a more old-school guitar sound.  Pulling the best moments from 80s metal as his higher notes sweep and soar, it shows a more melodic bent to his playing skills.  Before long, though, he chooses to underlie this with a very twenty first century djenting sound, the kind befitting of the likes of Tesseract and Chimp Spanner.  As the instrumental progresses, the interplay with drummer Kevin McGuill shows no sign of letting up as the band navigate various time signatures.  For a mix of classic rock guitar sounds and something more alternative, this is about as fine as you’ll find – a superb listen for tech metal fans and musos alike.  For riffs and power, ‘Absolute Hell’ is particularly sharp. Cocci takes all of his previous tricks, while ex-Archaic vocalist Tim Goergen (making his third appearance with WTR) taps into a melodic death metal vocal which like some of the earlier performances by In Flames man Anders Fliden strikes the right balance between growl and accessibility – always ensuring a bulk of the lyrical content remains audible.  In short, a cracking piece of metal.

The title cut is an almost perfect example the work of a band who strive to attack with extreme metal riffs while still obviously caring for an accessible metallic melody.  A few of the old school lead guitars surface during intermittent lead breaks, but for the most part, this tune is a sledgehammer of bottom end, proving Within The Ruins masters of their craft.  Imagine Lamb of God’s onslaught combined with the downtuned elements of Mirrors of Obsidian and you’ll be halfway home.  Now imagine such a force combined with the hook of “we are fucking elite / nothing can ever touch us / we are elite / as for the rest obsolete” and you’ll possibly agree – this represents something pretty near the forefront of its field.  Taking things even faster, parts ‘The Charm’ cranks the gears to full pace, taking tech metal elements and thrashing them out at a speed worthy of Phil Anselmo’s Superjoint Ritual.  Even with the extra speed, WTR sacrifice none of the intricacy within their playing; as before, Cocci is extremely dextrous, whether choosing to hammer his fretboard (some great tapping elements flesh out the already nimble leads) or ploughing the depths of a downtuned djent sound.  Of particular importance, too, is Kevin McGuill’s drum work – powered by unrelenting double bass pedals (thankfully, a lot of which seem organic and not always the work of the triggered option); between the spasmodic rhythms and the superb leads, these four musicians sound like a force of nature.

Throughout this release, Within The Ruins are on absolutely blistering form. With a perfect balance between sledgehammer riffs and industrial triggers, this is without doubt one of 2013’s best metal albums.  Now ready to take their place with the better known exponents of tech- and melodic death metal, with ‘Elite’, Within The Remains have delivered a masterpiece of metal intensity that’s not to be missed.

June 2013