Simply put, Massachusetts’ Within the Ruins shred. Their style combines the palm-muted breakdowns of metalcore with thrash-metal speed and melodic guitar runs to create a recipe ripe with flashy displays of guitar mastery. But shredding prowess is not enough to make a great band, and, confirming this, their earliest releases seemed to emphasize technicality at the expense of catchy and memorable songwriting.
Fortunately, the matured sense of composition shown on 2010’s Invade has only improved here on the Omen EP. The releases' two original songs display focused, hooky riffs strung together with impressive guitar flourishes and neck-snapping breakdowns. It’s far from original, but it is certainly satisfying for any fan of the metalcore subgenre.
The two covers, however, really steal the show. Metallica’s "Fight Fire with Fire" suits the band perfectly and is performed here with a relentless urgency that may even surpass the Ride the Lightning original. The other cover is an unexpected take on Kansas’s "Carry On Wayward Son" that transforms the classic-rock classic into a phenomenal metal epic that is a blast to listen to.
While the strongest tracks may be the covers, it doesn’t dull the luster of this strong EP. If Within the Ruins can carry the exuberant vitality shown here to their next LP, they will be a band to truly watch. CLARKE READ