Within the Ruins fans rejoice, as the US quartet have returned with their fifth release Halfway Human. Once again, the band have set out to challenge the listener, not sticking to one genre in particular, but instead experimenting and allowing their sound to evolve from that freedom. Within the Ruins are well known in the metalcore scene in particular, and have used elements of that genre to shape Halfway Human, but also incorporating elements from various metal sub-genres, creative a truly diverse and unique album.
The crushing heaviness of Halfway Human is almost instantly recognisable, as the first track, “Shape Shifter” starts with a heavily distorted riff courtesy of guitarist Joe Cocchi, before a slamming assault of guitar and drumbeats come down on you in quick succession. “Shape Shifter” acts as a perfect introduction to the album, showing off small doses of what will be explored in far greater detail on later tracks; Tim Goergen’s harsh screams, mixed with the clean, melodic voice of bassist Paolo Galang, riffs which would make Dave Mustaine jealous, and, of course, some seriously heavy slams.
As a lover of all things bass, a personal favourite track of mine is “Skysplitter”, which begins with an onslaught of guitar riffs, followed closely by some fierce blastbeats from Kevin “Drummer” McGuil. Galang gets to truly show off in the chorus however, as he plays some of the most ludicrously deep bass notes, while also providing the clean vocals for the chorus. A powerful track not for the faint hearted, and one that promises to start moshpits in even the most tame of venues.
Guitar lovers, fear not, there is still a plethora of tasty riffs and slamming solos for you to enjoy, particularly in the album’s penultimate track “Ataxia IV”. The song is almost entirely riffs, showcasing Cocchi’s insane talent as a guitarist; pulling off the high, classic-style heavy metal riffs, while also showing off some of the more threatening, less melodic guitar riffs which have almost become a staple of the metalcore genre.
Halfway Human has yet again evolved Within the Ruin’s overall sound, creating an album which sounds massive, as if the music totally encompasses you. The mixture of clean and screamed vocals can be a tricky one in modern metal, but the band have managed to tread that line with ease. Tracks like “Death of the Rockstar” and “Object Reality” manage to blend Georgen’s screamed vocals with Galang’s clean, sometimes having them at the same time, creating a bizarre, yet brilliant, duet of sorts. The use of clean vocals is sparing, used in choruses on some of the songs, saving the band from falling in to the trap of sounding too clean, but still being accessible to newer listeners.
Halfway Human is released on the 3rd of March and is available here.