Too many trills and not enough thrills

Comedian Chris Rock once made a remark which many technically-minded metal acts should keep in mind from time to time.

“You can do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s to be done,” he commented in his imitable style. “You can drive a car with your feet if you want to – that don’t make it a good fuckin’ idea.”

How does this relate to the world of extreme metal? Well, just because you’re capable of playing technically demanding music, doesn’t mean you should always do so at the expense of penning actual songs. Massachusetts deathcore mob Within the Ruins are clearly a technically proficient bunch – particularly in the guitar department, their second full-length record filled with deft harmonics, sweep-picked arpeggios and extended lead trade-off’s (prog-infused ‘Ataxia’). They’re also more than willing to showcase said ability; see ‘Roads’ or breakdown-ridden, Meshuggah-inspired ‘Red Flagged’ for but two instances of this. The main issue is that for all of their chops, off-kilter time signatures and crushing heaviness, Invade is largely soulless and without a great deal of nous in the songcraft department, even in a genre which has typically produced little else. ‘Versus’ ought to be an impressive sight to witness live with dozens of pit ninjas cutting loose, but there really is little personality, engagement or even hooks to sink your proverbial claws into here. There are enough moves and shapes to get the party started in the pit for those that way inclined, but it all reeks of sterility and forgettable songwriting. The guitars possess considerable dexterity, but the bass is almost a non-factor, the drumming too machine-like to inject any real warmth and the vocals at best nondescript. It’s passable enough while it’s playing, but you’ll struggle to recall more than a few genuinely distinguishable moment once the album has actually finished playing. The closest to achieving this goal would likely be ‘Oath’, which bristles with a greater vitriol than any of the other material.

This will have appeal for fans of the likes of The Faceless, The Acacia Strain, August Burns Red, Carnifex and perhaps even The Red Shore, but even those fans may soon lose interest and look elsewhere for a more distinctive take on the style. As well-played as it is, Invade is a case of too many trills and not enough genuine thrills.

1. Designing Oblivion
2. Versus
3. Behold the Harlot
4. Red Flagged
5. Invade
6. Ataxia
7. Cross Buster
8. Feast Or Famine
9. Oath
10. The Carouser
11. Roads