WITHIN THE RUINS – Not Your Ordinary Metalcore Band
March 7, 2017, a year ago
Massachusetts metalcore band Within The Ruins is in great company.
Growing up in the hotbed of the Mass. metalcore scene of the early ’00s — which spawned influential bands such as Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Unearth and Shadows Fall — WTR represents the new breed of the genre.
Consisting of Tim Goergen (vocals), Joe Cocchi (guitar), Paolo Galang (bass) and Kevin “Drummer” McGuill (drums), WTR has steadily progressed since forming in 2005.
On its fifth full-length release, Halfway Human (released March 3rd via eOne), WTR implements several atypical metalcore elements that separates itself from its peers.
Orchestral elements, choirs, various guitar effects and different vocal textures are implemented splendidly throughout Halfway Human. Compared to its last album, 2014’s Phenomena, Halfway Human is a different beast all together.
“I feel like the material overall is darker than the last album,” Cocchi admitted. “Those elements just worked for a lot of the songs. The choir and the orchestrated stuff was a very cinematic approach to writing. As it went on month after month as the songs started to take flight, we just added wherever that stuff worked. I think there’s a lot more elements to this album overall.”
As a product of its environment, WTR were naturally influenced by its Massachusetts metalcore brethren when it first formed 12 years ago. However, throughout the years WTR has developed its own style within the genre.
“We started off playing Metallica and other metal covers,” Cocchi explained. “Once the whole metalcore scene came along in 2003-04-05, we kind of latched onto that. So we sounded like Killswitch (Engaged) and As I Lay Dying for a while. It’s just all a part of it. Every band does the same thing. Everything’s been done, so you try to be something that you’re interested in. And from there, you just try to develop into something.”
For Halfway Human, Cocchi handled the knob-twirling. Even though he co-engineered on Phenomena, the difference this time around is that the band was able to record the entire thing in Cocchi’s home studio. This comfortable atmosphere was less nerve-wracking than having professional studio deadlines.
“It was the opposite of nerve-wracking,” he stated. “When you book studio time and you only have one month to go in and get this thing done; that’s what’s nerve-wracking. We didn’t do a whole lot of touring last year, so we spent half the year writing and recording. When you do it on your own time, you can spend so much more time making sure everything’s good to go. So I enjoyed it.”
Something that sets WTR apart from other homogenized metalcore bands is Cocchi’s tasty guitar solos, which adds a whole another dynamic to the band’s sound. Instead of that wanky, techy noodling that most guitar players in metalcore bands are so fond of these days, Cocchi’s spur of the moment solos are played with loads of feeling and emotion.
“A lot of them are literally (done) on the spot, where I just threw some solos down,” Cocchi admitted. “Usually that’s the best way for me to do it. I didn’t spend a ton of time working on the solos. They just came out and when it came time to officially track, I just re-recorded some of them. A lot of them I honestly left from the pre-production and the demos. They were fine, so why try to redo them? I definitely tried to make a point to add some feely stuff to the solos and I’m stoked how they came out.”
Before even giving Halfway Human a spin, the first thing you’ll notice while holding the album in your hands is the killer cover artwork. The illustration is a total departure from its previous digital space-themed covers, and the psychedelic skull-flamed tattoo-esque image will definitely look totally cool on a T-shirt, or quite possibly even a tattoo.
“We wanted to do something different than the spacey type of stuff we did for the last two albums,” Cocchi said. “The last two came out back to back and they both had that spacey element because we had the same guy do both. This one we wanted it to look more real so we had Angryblue (Justin Kamerer) do it, and he hand-drew it all. It’s a little bit more organic, which was the goal for this album. The Acacia Strain also used this same dude for their album artwork. It does look cool. We got it on our guitar cabinets, backdrop, and T-shirts. Also, it might encourage people to get tattoos. That’d be a cool piece to get done, which our fans are crazy enough to do that.”
Already a decade-plus old and on its fifth full-length album, WTR has gradually climbed up the extreme metal ladder. Landing some choice tours in North America, Europe and Japan, as well as some highly visible festival slots such as Summer Slaughter has gotten their name out there. However, some frustration of being a touring band understandably sets in for Cocchi.
“We’re thankful to be where we’re at and the fact that we’re still doing it,” Cocchi said. “Stuff happens with tour lineups, or not getting better tours. There’s always something to complain about. We’ve worked our asses off and it’s our passion. Then you go see some maybe not-so-passionate bands doing bigger and better things and it’s just a gradual peak for us. It didn’t happen overnight. Hard work does pay off. It’s not always easy and it’s never financially as gratifying as people think. It does get to you after a while. It’s not that we don’t love what we do, but sometimes we get pissed off. And with this being our album number five, we wanted to make stuff happen. This is like our Black album.”