It’s no secret that Within The Ruins are currently hard at work in studio recording the follow-up to 2014’s excellent Phenomena album. They’ve regularly updated fans on their Facebook page, and are doing a great job of building up anticipation for their latest release– I know I’m certainly looking forward to it. With that being said, it’s given me an opportunity to think about what I would personally love to see from one of the most creative bands in the metalcore/deathcore scene.
A welcome addition on 2014’s Phenomena was the inclusion of big choruses with melodies to sing along to. Whilst singing has long been a bone of contention for bands as heavy as Within The Ruins, they managed to show that they could make it work in the context of their songs. Just listen to the vocal melodies in “Gods Amongst Men”, which has an awesome chorus that keeps the song engaging and uplifting. This is really going to translate well to a live setting, as a memorable chorus that fans can join in with creates an interactive experience for band and fans alike (seeing them perform “Elite” when they supported Carnifex at Camden Underworld really illustrated this point for me). This is definitely going to be an aspect that will feature on the upcoming album, as a photo of the studio whiteboard reveals that new bassist Paolo Galang will be singing on several of the tracks.
Comic Book Themes
Another feature that made Phenomena just so enjoyable were the lyrical themes, which focussed primarily on superheroes. Each song corresponded to a different comic book hero or villain, which gave each track its own distinct identity. Whilst the idea is certainly a fantastic one (I am partial to comic books myself), there is an opportunity to take this concept and develop it further. Instead of relying on existing material to draw from, perhaps vocalist Tim Goergen could create his own heroes and villains, and as the album progresses, so too does the storyline of the new characters. The handy part about this is that by creating your own superheroes and villains you don’t have to rely on the user already being familiar with the content (which they aren’t always). It doesn’t matter that they aren’t aware of “the origin story” or previous storylines that tie in with the characters, as they’ll be in the same position as all the other listeners who will pick up the album for the first time.
An integral part of Within The Ruins identity is their distinct guitar work. Guitarist Joe Cocchi has crafted a guitar tone that is very unique- it feels synthetic and digital (which is appropriate for a band that has a ‘tech’ edge) yet it doesn’t compromise the heaviness of the riffs and breakdowns. He also throws in an interesting choice of guitar effects which he uses in an unconventional manner, so that the songs the band creates are full of subtlety and nuance that separates them from the rest of the metal scene. Therefore, it is imperative that the band maintains these components on the next album, as I feel their unorthodox approach to metal is a big part of why fans enjoy them in the first place.
More Bass Work
Whilst Joe Cocchi does provide a large portion of the band’s melodies and riffs, I would love to see the band use the bass as a melodic instrument with its own distinct bass lines, rather than serving to beef up the guitars. This might be asking quite a lot from new bass player Paolo Galang (formerly of Silence The Messenger), but I’m confident that the technical chops are there to produce excellent bass work. A really good precedent would Job For A Cowboy’s most recent album, Sun Eater. Despite starting as a fairly standard deathcore band, they’ve matured over the course of four albums and infused their savage death metal leanings with progressive influences and a no holds barred approach to song writing. A lot can be learnt from how bass lines are weaved in and out of the guitar parts to create a more textured and varied piece of music.
A Range Of Tempos
Across the band’s back catalogue its fair to say that their songs range from mid-tempo to more upbeat songs. While there is no doubt that the band can execute songs at those speeds, I feel that they need to incorporate a greater sense of dynamics. Perhaps a slower groove could be brought to the table, or maybe something that’s dark and moody in which the instruments are allowed to breathe and to ebb and flow naturally. This creates a more rounded album, and an overall more gratifying listen. If every song is at full throttle then there isn’t much room for the listener to really get to grips with the finer details which I’m sure the band put a lot of time and effort into.
And What I Don’t Want… Djent (I know, the irony!)
Having already established that Within The Ruins have tech metal roots (due to their technical musicianship and progressive approach to instrumentation), and that they have their own individual sound, its important that they don’t resort to crafting a djent-based sound. The band already has a unique identity, and there are just too many bands taking the technical/djent route in metal- we need bands like Within The Ruins to show that there are different ways to approach the same style.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What are you anticipating or dreading? Feel free to leave a comment, like this blog post, like the Facebook page and follow this blog for more content.