Within the Ruins: Phenomena

There hasn’t been a lot of space in between when Within the Ruins released 2013’s Elite and this year’s Phenomena. This begs the question whether the band have been super productive and putting a lot of time and creative energy into crafting a stellar record or did they put some songs together in a fairly recent fashion as a means of maintaining some visibility. Personally, I think the latter option is what actually happened with this record.

Within the Ruins have created a loyal following for themselves over the years thanks to some crushing albums and the enrapturing melodies that inhabited them. There’s no doubt that Creature (2009) and Invade (2o1o) are great records full stop. Even the Omen EP, which came out in 2011, was strong. However, some might argue that while there was a fresh sound sonically for the band with Elite, there was also an equally stagnant point with the group’s songwriting. I found myself finding a few musical ideas repetitious and in some cases unmemorable. I think Phenomena features a lot of the same sound, now redundant song-writing, and seemingly no drive to push the envelope with what they’re creating.

Now that may seem harsh, but there are loads of other bands that have been leveling out for the past few years and I’m sure many bands will continue to do so. The sound that Within the Ruins have created for themselves, isn’t really unique to them at all, especially if you listen to Thy Art is Murder, Carnifex, or even Whitechapel (especially newer Whitechapel). Before you all riot on that last sentence, bear in mind I’m comparing the sound of these bands and not the actual song-writing in this case because I still believe Whitechapel take the cake in that respect with Thy Art is Murder at a close second. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say the sound of these group’s sonically is alike in many aspects and each group have the obvious defining characteristics that separate them from the herd.

My big issue though with this record is that I simply don’t need it, and that’s a pretty damaging thing to say about most bands. When I say that I mean that their first three albums and even bits of Omen and Elite are all I really need and this album is simply packed full of redundancies that I don’t need clogging up storage space on my computer or iPod. Don’t get me wrong. There are still some great moments and really badass hooks in the album, but they are too far and few in between to make me care enough about the record as a whole.

Overall, there are not a whole lot of redeeming qualities with this record for me besides the fact that I know the band are consistent with sound and a little too consistent with song structure, songwriting, etc. I’m not terribly surprised though because there are plenty of other bands out there releasing “safe” records in order to stay afloat and that’s fine. Whatever gets you going through the day.

Luke Helker




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