Sunday, September 30, 2012
Within the Ruins - Invade (2010)
Though not opposed to metalcore on general principle, like the majority of my peers, I still find the value of the vast majority of today's core bands to be utterly negligible. Due to the endless recycling of palm-muted break beats, trendy, simplistic songwriting, and little else, there's not much of interest. What is essentially Limp Bizkit in wolf's clothing doth not brutality make (ahem, Winds of Plague, cough...). Within the Ruins do their appreciable best to break the cycle and worm their way into the tech death section of my heart. To an extent they succeed, as Invade is a consistently entertaining venture. However, though flashy and interesting in a moment to moment context, the lack of a soul, or meaningful songwriting, ensures the limitation of this musical powerhouse.
I freely admit that endlessly twiddling guitar and technicality for its own sake don't really bother me as much as they do others, as I thoroughly enjoy musical wankery, but these elements sandwiched with a side of the expected breakdowns make up the entirety of Invade. Instrumentally speaking, this album is tactful and impressive; every note is carefully plotted and executed with mathematical efficiency, and the result is an incredibly consistent display of technical deathcore that is certainly anything but boring. Invade is literally packed to the brim with spectacular, often classically inspired lead guitar lines and bludgeoning grooves, and this is what the show is all about. Yes, yes, there are one-note breakdowns, all over the place in fact, but their inclusion didn’t make me groan so much in this instance. I still dislike the trend, but they feel like an essential part of whatever underlying groove is present, and never feel tacked on like an afterthought for the sake of being as trendy as possible. This alone makes Within the Ruins far more refreshing than the stagnant majority.
The problem I have is that it all feels a bit soulless, as the songs are devoid of compelling structure. There's no momentum building, no atmosphere... no real meat, if you will. It all feels super familiar, just a more twiddly and acrobatic variation of established core aesthetics, with horribly stupid, self-affirming tough guy lyrics. The songs run together into one big (admittedly interesting) marathon of technical grooves and lead guitar wizardry, never creating a captivating fog in which to lose one’s self in. In the end it's essentially a circus sideshow, rather than a Shakespearean play. You will be wowed. You will be entertained. But what you will not find is anything that penetrates the heart. Invade is never really boring, but neither is it memorable.
Whatever nagging I might level at Invade, I feel that Within the Ruins probably achieved exactly what they set out to do, and I can't really fault them for doing what they do so well. These songs are mosh-friendly displays of wowing technicality and spectacular, twiddling leads, meant to get kids in skinny pants and backwards hats swinging their extremities around like assholes, and that’s about as far as the aspiration goes. That sounds mean, but essentially, I'd call it a decent record, suitable for anyone with math-metal inclinations. I certainly had a bit of fun with it. However, keep in mind that this is really only spectacular on the surface. It's like a beautiful girl with no personality. Nothing offensive, per se, which is itself certainly a step up from the ugliness of today's insultingly vapid deathcore movement, but no real depth to speak of, either. That said, it’s certainly skillful, and as I’ve no doubt stated too often already, certainly more compelling than your generic jock mosh bullshit like Carnifex or Hatebreed. Not something I’ll keep listening to, but not bad, either.