Within the Ruins has always been pretty big in the underground metalcore scene. It was in 2011 when they REALLY got their name out there in the world when they won the opening spot on the Summer Slaughter Tour which included The Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, Dying Fetus, Oceano, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and a few other bands. I didn’t bother looking them up before seeing them that year, and I was minimally impressed by their performance anyway. What caused me to look this album up? Look at the fucking cover and tell me it doesn’t make you want to listen to it. The big quest that a lot of music critics out there are on is finding the metalcore bands out there that aren’t like everyone else and that are actually unique and great. Within the Ruins, unfortunately, isn’t one of those bands. But, they have done something that the majority of the METALCORE genre hasn’t done.
The average metalcore band plays simple breakdowns, melodic choruses, and not really much else. Within the Ruins does what a lot of deathcore bands do, and that is the Meshuggah-influenced polyrhythmic style breakdowns known as “djent”. Ok, yes, they don’t sound like the majority of metalcore bands, but this isn’t what I meant! Within the Ruins is doing exactly what Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, After the Burial, and Chelsea Grin are doing (all deathcore bands), except Within the Ruins are not as heavy, not as interesting, less-colorful, and less inventive. They sound like a Born of Osiris cover band that’s not as heavy. On top of the already overdone polyrhythmic tempos during the verses, the breakdowns themselves are too predictable and fail to deliver the amount of energy they’re supposed to.
In fact, the entire album lacks energy. It’s like The Common Man’s Collapse by Veil of Maya, except Elite is not as complex, more monotonous, and not nearly as catchy. Here’s the thing that Within the Ruins does that tricks you: the first two tracks off this album are awesome. The breakdowns are complex, the frilly guitar riffs and the complex harmonizations, although overdone, are catchy. Then, after the second track, everything grows old. You hear the exact same thing over and over again for the entire duration of the album. This very interesting and complex style being played over and over without any sort of variation is bad; it completely ruins the concept of the style being interesting. It’s this type of stuff that’s hard to review because it doesn’t leave me anything to talk about. There’s nothing substantially good OR bad about it other than that it’s completely bland.
The musicianship is nothing substantial at all. The guitarists’ technical skills are what one would expect from someone playing the style of metalcore that they’re playing. The drumming, just like the guitars, is nothing special. In fact, the drums are actually a disappointment considering that this type of music is all about the tempo and the drums. The drummer rarely delivers and interesting fill, everything he does during the breakdowns fails to show any interest in being creative, and the complex kick drum patterns he does, although skillfully impressive, fail to be memorable and are forgotten as soon as they’re played.
There is one positive to Elite that needs to be mentioned. Have Within the Ruins improved as a band and as songwriters? Fuck yes they have! The shitty songs that they played on The Summer Slaughter Tour in 2011, when compared to all the songs on Elite, are evidence that Within the Ruins have matured their sound, expanded their creativity, and drastically improved their instrumental skills. This is something that should not be ignored because it’s definitely a big pro that this record carries. In fact, it’s enough of an improvement to have me looking forward to see what Within the Ruins puts out next; because if they keep improving like they have here, these guys have the potential to add up to be a fucking monster of a metalcore band. Unfortunately, Elite is all we have right now as far as improvement from these guys goes. I would only recommend this to diehard metalcore fans and give it an 11/20. If you want a song recommendation, Feeding Frenzy is pretty much the only track off this album that I would ever go back and listen to in the future.