After three years of waiting, technical metalcore band Within the Ruins have released their third full-length album, “Elite.”
The album opens up with a bone-crushing instrumental that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Upon listening to the first few songs, you realize that the guitar is the main focus of the band, which is not a bad thing.
The guitars switch between blood-curdling breakdowns to fast, catchy riffs that are reminiscent of their peers within the genre, Born of Osiris and After the Burial. The tone of the guitar is also noteworthy, because not only does it sound heavy and crunchy, but is also clean and refined. This mixture makes for a unique guitar tone you do not usually hear from other bands like this. The drums are fast and technical, complementing the guitar work nicely. The drummer’s blast beats hit you head on without a moment’s notice and the rapid double bass is unrelenting.
Unfortunately, like most metalcore albums, the bass is nearly inaudible in these songs, which is a shame as it could add another dimension to the music, but it keeps up with the guitars and makes the breakdowns heavier. Furthermore, the vocalist does a fine job of adding to the brutality of the album as his flexible voice can go from mid-tone screams to low guttural growls to high-pitched howls that will send shivers down your spine.
Compared to their previous albums, this is a step up in technicality, heaviness and catchiness. While most of the songs do sound very similar, each of them has a certain quality that any listener can enjoy. Frequent guitar solos and atmospheric guitar elements diversify these songs to add more flavor.
The album closer, “Dreamland,” is definitely different from the rest of the album, as it includes clean, acoustic guitar segments and spoken-word vocals, while still keeping up the same formula used throughout the album with speedy riffing and nightmarish breakdowns, but the bellowing vocalist takes a break during this song to give the listener some breathing room after screaming in their ears through the entire album.
The production of the album is worth mentioning. Not only does the production help with the guitar tones, but the way the guitarists play is also a factor in creating this tone. The drums pack a punch with each hit of the snares, toms, cymbals and double bass. The vocals sound just as good as the rest of the instruments, as they are mixed well and stand out even among the chaos the guitars and drums are creating.
A major setback, however, is the bass guitar is almost impossible to hear. It is at a low volume in the mix and it has more of a laidback tone as compared to the guitars. This works, however, as it does not distract from the phenomenal technicality of the guitars. The overall production sounds very clean and does not sound muddy like some albums in this genre of music.
Within the Ruins fans may enjoy this album because they stick to their usual formula, but fans may also not like this album for the same reason.