Within The Ruins are a band on the rise. That might seem like a strange thing to say about a band 11 years and (now) six albums into their career, but it doesn’t make it any less true. As while the band have general been regarded as a solid metalcore/deathcore act for while it would be fair to say they have never been considered in the upper echelons alongside luminaries like Killswitch Engage, Suicide Silence & Whitechapel (all of whom they have toured with). Blackheart could soon see that change, though.
The first seeds the band could be growing away from their core sound actually occurred on their last record, Halfway Human, particularly with the introduction of bassist’s Paolo Galang’s clean vocals which are once again on display, even more prominently, in this record. Here there is also a greater diversification of sound with classic death metal, progressive death, djent and thrash elements peppered throughout. That is not the only change as this LP sees the full-length debut of new vocalist Steve Tinnon, who joined in 2018. Not to worry though, as his death growls/screams are every bit as intense and good as previous vocalist Tim Goergen.
There may be a lot of change, but there are many familiar elements too. Opening track Domination kicks off in very familiar metalcore territory with its growled vocals, widdily guitars and ferocious breakdowns. However, even here you can find surprising elements with a mid-track guitar riff sounding exactly like Master of Puppets-era Metallica.
Many of the tracks undulate between different subgenres. Deliverance for example starts out as a fearsome djent track, all complex polyrhythms and staccato crunch before switching to a slower, but still heavy, metal core beat-down. These gear switches could feel jarring but, impressively, they rarely do as they mostly transition between various subgenres with relative ease.
Over the album’s ten tracks there are no real duds, but there are a couple of weaker tracks, for sure. Compared to the experimentation going on elsewhere, the likes of the title track and Devil in Me sound a bit generically metalcore particularly the latter which could easily be a Killswitch off-cut.
Not that these tracks detract too much from the overall quality here. They are overshadowed by the many kick-ass tracks like the aforementioned Domination, the ferocious face-melter Hollow, or the epic prog-death effort Outsider. Proceedings end on a real high too with the sprawling experimental instrumental track Ataxia V. Clocking in at just over six minutes it fits in all the band’s various elements into a wonderful mad stew even finding time for a bit of melodic Spanish guitar in the middle.
As stated, it may seem odd to consider a sixth album as a breakthrough, but that what it feels like Blackheart is. If there is any justice, it should see them confirmed amongst metalcore/deathcore’s heavyweights.