FEBRUARY 15th 2017
WITHIN THE RUINS - HALFWAY HUMAN
Review by Lana Muirhead
I was privileged to pop my Within the Ruins cherry with their fifth-coming album Halfway Human. Although I’m sure they’ve crossed my dark path at some point in the past, when I actually sat down and played their newest effort (multiple times), I realized what an absolutely awesome metal act they are.
Massachusetts men Tim Goergen (vocals), Paolo Galang (bass, clean vocals), Joe Cocchi (guitarist and producer), and Kevin “Drummer” McGuill (drummer, obviously) have found an invaluable chemistry that works on all levels: sonically, rhythmically, and melodically. When I listen to an album I make notes about each song and mark the tunes that really hit me round one. I go through again when I’m just listening, and mark the ones that just rile me in whatever way. By the end of this album, I realized I had markings all the way down my page. I find it hard to believe there will be anything on this album that will not appeal to someone in some way, regardless of their musical inclinations.
Given that I have no basis of comparison for this album, I was not set up to hold it to any kind of standard but my own and that of the competition at this point in time in the game. It didn’t take long to realize that Within The Ruins should be bigger players.
The album is heavy throughout and gives equal time to all parties to shape, drive, and carry any particular tune. Opener “Shape Shifter” is absolutely an album sell, combining an air of angelicism despite the devilish delivery from Goergen. There are hauntings of competing melodies, which actually end up complimenting each other rather than battling for attention. From the anthemic “Death of The Rockstar”, to the ethereal “Incomplete Harmony” to the layered “Ivory Tower”, Within The Ruins manages to show their ability to not only rock your face off, but to catch you completely off-guard by their talent to combine the different elements of the metal world to create a truly absorbing collection of songs.
I was really into “Objective Reality” which weaves an atmospheric quality among the harmonies and intersecting instrumentals. The most ‘metalcore’ of their offering, it is a bit of fresh air if ever you felt weighed down by the intensity of the remaining tunes. Galang really shines here as a vocalist and demonstrates the band’s flexibility in terms of genre-bending.
The album comes to a close with a 6:50 instrumental called “Ataxia IV” followed by the return of Goergen on closer “Treadstone”. The former seethes the absolute control that Galang, Cocchi and McGuill have over their drive for the big and boisterous by easing off and being close to relaxed and atmospheric at times. By the latter, I had pegged the musical formula the band mostly emplo,ys but rocked along the road they lay out. Galang masterfully controls the ebb and flow of the record, while Cocchi surfs it with expert instincts and absolutely commanding riffs. McGuill had me thinking there were two drummers at some points, given that he was putting out so much from behind the kit. He commandeered that vessel while Georgen rallied the troops with his bellowing call.
The technicality of this album is well beyond me, as you will all know, but the mysticism and cohesion of it is not. Halfway Human gives me hope that metal is alive and well, albeit sometimes unrecognized, and it blew up my skirt to know that Within Ruins carries the torch across the bastard board despite the odds.