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Within The Ruins - "Invade" (CD)

Within The Ruins - "Invade" CD cover image

"Invade" track listing:

1. Designing Oblivion (0:34)
2. Versus (3:55)
3. Behold the Harlot (3:37)
4. Red Flagged (3:59)
5. Invade (3:59)
6. Ataxia (3:47)
7. Cross Buster (3:36)
8. Feast or Famine (3:50)
9. Oath (3:50)
10. The Carouser (3:33)
11. Roads (6:24)

Reviewed by on September 5, 2010

"If you are a fan of very well executed yet formulaic technical death metal, then you want this album."

Adding Malmsteen-level virtuosity into more melodic death metal structures, technical death metal has caught both the troo fans and technical junkies up in a tizzy. Like every other suddenly popular metal subgenre, technical death metal has been blown out and run out in the past couple years as every kid that can play sweep arpeggios has added tremolo picking to their repertoire and formed a tech-death band. So now we are reduced to looking at tech-death the same way we do thrash or power metal – nothing is fresh, despite the desperate need for it, and the only factor is how well the subgenre is executed. Within The Ruins got a jump on the tech-death scene, releasing their first album in 2006. But now in 2010, the band’s third long player “Invade” failed to capitalize on that jump, and is perfectly fine.

The first thing that stands out about “Invade” is the homogeneous structure, as nince of the eleven tracks are between three-and-a-half and four minutes long; the only exceptions are the half-minute intro and the six-plus minute album closer. As “Invade” plays it is clear that the first nine proper songs are as homogeneously written as the similar run times suggest, as each features the exact same elements: harsh shouted vocals, disjointed breaks that are heavy with syncopation and odd time signatures, blast beats, and leads-as-hooks. Most of this is done at warp-speed, outside of a couple breakdown-ish places, and no song in this collection is going to demand a replay as they are all interchangeable. If you liked a particular solo the only way to find it again is to play "Invade” from the beginning and wait until it comes up.

Despite the songs being mostly the same across the entire album, the execution is good. The leads tend to be pretty sweet, blast beats are precise and not overdone, and the vocals are brutal and still understandable. Within the Ruins also has a fair sense of arrangement and songwriting, as the songs move in and out of the technical and melodic sections well, usually not overstaying at either place. “Ataxia” has a phenomenal extended solo section which ends up being most of the song, “Versus” has a strong groove on the second half of the cut, and album closer “Roads” takes more time to develop musical themes, giving more continuity to the music. It even has a solo jam that is almost power metal.

Ultimately “Invade” would have been better if Within The Ruins had pushed itself to write some songs that break the mold a bit – maybe some are mostly technical, maybe some are mostly melodic, and so on. One of the reasons “Ataxia” is good is because it does break the formula. But if you are a fan of very well executed yet formulaic technical death metal, then you want this album.

Highs: “Ataxia” is mostly a long lead section and is the best song on the album.

Lows: Nine of the songs are completely interchangeable.

Bottom line: Technical death metal that is both very well executed and very formulaic.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)