Album review: Within the Ruins – Halfway Human

Genre: Progressive metal / deathcore

Release date: 3rd March 2017

Record label: eOne Music

 

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Let’s not beat about the bush here: Halfway Human, the fifth album from deathcore mavens Within the Ruins, is ridiculously good. In fact, it’s probably far, far better than any newcomer to both the band and their genre would ever expect it to be.

Over the course of the past ten-plus years, deathcore has endured something of a reputation as the maligned, red-headed, acne-ridden, buck-toothed step-child of classic death metal. “Diluted” by its similarities to the controversial metalcore movement, elitists love digging into deathcore at every chance they get, with acts like Suicide Silence and early Bring Me the Horizon often being at the very front of the firing line.

However, Within the Ruins, an unhinged quartet from Massachusetts, is one of the exceptions to this rule, as they blend the metalcore-tinged aggression of Carnifex and Whitechapel with aggressive experimentation akin to Gojira and Meshuggah. And that mixture is just as mind-bendingly magnificent as it sounds.

Mixing muscular polyrhythms with elements of the acoustic, symphonic and melodic, Halfway Human is all over the map in the best possible way, coming across as the perfect time capsule for the sound of metal in the 2010s. Not only is there deathcore and prog present here, but so too are the harmonic leads of melodic death metal, the sing-along choruses of the NWOBHM revival, the anarchy of modern thrash and the skull-splitting roars of melodic metalcore. This record is focused and viciously driven, but also versatile and technically marvellous, forming a perfect solace for any metalhead unafraid of the most extreme end of the musical spectrum.

A massive chunk of Halfway Human’s innate success can be attributed to the simultaneously intimidating and enthralling vocal performances of Tim Goergen and Paolo Galang, who trade-off between growls and cleans so eloquently that it can’t help but make one wonder how the band haven’t included such overt melodies before.

But absolutely nothing can be taken away from the instrumentals, which consist of Galang on bass, Joe Cocchi on guitar and Kevin “Drummer” McGuill on (you guessed it) drums. These three individuals are not just endlessly talented in and of themselves on this progressive record, but they also have an immense measure of chemistry in order to pull of the intense, experimental metal they astonishingly deliver. The rhythms are mad and the riffs are immeasurably heavy but, most importantly, everything combines to just make awesome head-banging music.

Intensity is Halfway Human’s bread and butter, but is also a record that delivers so much more than that, shattering the “diet death metal” preconception that comes with the deathcore label to create not only what is Within the Ruins’ greatest achievement to date, but also one of the first true candidates for the title of best metal album of 2017.

Final Rating: Halfway Human gets 9 flaming skull hourglasses out of 10.

Halfway Human will be available physically and digitally on 3rd March 2017 via eOne Music.

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