Life is about choices. Each choice that you make creates a fork in the road with a path that you went down and several that you could have just left as a possible subplot or piece of backstory that didn’t happen. Within Destruction have established themselves as one of the most brutal acts out of Slovenia in the Slamming Deathcore scene over the last few years with the help of Unique Leader Records, dropping “Void” in 2016 and then calling out the Slam Police to investigate when it’s follow up “Deathwish” dropped two years later in 2018. Back with a new album in “Yōkai“, they have made some interesting decisions in creating it. First, amicably parting with their label and creating “Ultra Heavy Records” for their release, then getting Australian Producer Lance Prenc (Polaris, Gravemind, Void Of Vision) on board to mix and master, thirdly incorporating Metalcore and Trap Metal into their sound before lastly going with a Japanese culture theme for the album. With us so far?
There shouldn’t be all that much doubt around what this new record from Within Destruction sounds like given the anime music videos which have been coming out of the camp preceding the release. Haunting electronic introduction piece “Yomi” could well welcome the band to the stage on the live arena but the style shift is more apparent in title track “Yokai” which features a guest appearance from Ryo Kinoshita of Crystal Lake. It’s still a heavy cut, but it’s not in the same ball park as the bands earlier material. Instead having a brutal scream along chorus over some Metalcore riffs with a Deathcore verse build up. The programmed introductions then continue into “Harakiri” which has the second guest of the record in rapper Bill $Aber on board. A heavier Deathcore orientated cut, it has some brutal Slam vocal moments with Luca Vezzosi delivering plenty of punch in drum department. A track themed around suicidal thoughts, it has plenty of moments of Party Deathcore within its confines and Attila would be jealous of that, Bill $Aber kept to a single, well worked verse. Swinging back around with the heavyweight aggression, “No Way Out” is a skullcrusher of a brutal Slamming Deathcore track, which finishes on a roar from Rok Rupnik that will summon demons from the black depths and proves, if it was need, that this band are still heavy.
“Malevolent” then continues that trend with Damir Juretic and Francesco Filigoi delivering some more technical riffs and brutal breakdowns, the likes of which helped make the bands name. The difference here is that there is an undercurrent of electronics that the band have used to bolster the sound. “Kings of Darkness” steps up the ferocity once more with some Technical Death Metal moments that are jaw dropping before Rupnik drops some pig squeals. The incorporation of some Nintendo esq moments add in that Japanese culture themed influence that is present on every track and the result is killer. The next risk taker is “Alone” which has a sung chorus and dark brooding atmosphere with Rupnik also producing a spoken word rap that builds tension. It’s a solid cut that grows on you over multiple listens due to the quirky way that the sung chorus part works, but it does work.
The first single was “Hate Me” and sees the band bringing a Nu-Metal introspective lyric and a stung chorus line “I don’t give a f*** if you hate me, cos I already hate myself” that is played off by some crushing Deathcore moments. It’s the Trap Metal verse which introduced some of the controversy around the bands direction and if anything it makes the band more accessible without selling out. “Backstab” then takes a leaf out of the book of Crystal Lake, throwing down plenty of high energy breakdowns and riffs before breaking for a more melodic chorus. The use of the softer more atmospheric moments brings out the heavier moments more as that quantum shift in the bands dynamic within each track makes for a white knuckle rollercoaster ride.
Speaking of someone talking s*** behind the bands back, “No Mercy” returns us the balls out heaviness with some of the technicality of Rings of Saturn as it piles through like a Jackhammer, before dropping into a groove heavy chorus. The most Trap Metal track is “B4NGB4NG!!” which feautes Tyosin and Kamiyada+ and sounds like a remix of a Within Destruction track rather than an album cut in its own right. The biggest experiment of “Yokai” doesn’t disrupt the flow however and if it was on a film soundtrack then most listeners wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Instrumental “Sakura” then rises up and has a distinctive Progressive Metal vibe to it with soaring leads and tapping sections that fuel the Japanese theme while creating something that is even more of a departure from the bands core sound than the previous cut, but in the polar opposite direction. The album then closes on a third departure with the ambient electronics of “Tokyo-No-Kuni” creating a chill out in the back seat of a Limousine after too much champagne on a hot summers day vibe. The end result is an experimental album that doesn’t step as far away from the roots as you might expect, expanding the horizons of Within Destruction and broadening their range and appeal, without destroying what they have created. It’s not the self titled album from Suicide Silence that some fans might have feared and there is plenty of heavy material within this record to keep the wolves from the bands door [7.5/10]
Yokai (ft. Ryo Kinoshita of Crystal Lake)
Harakiri (ft. Bill $Aber)
No Way Out
Kings of Darkness
B4NGB4NG!! (ft. Tyosin, Kamiyada+)
Sakura (ft. Jason Richardson)
“Yokai” by Within Destruction is out now via Ultra Heavy Records and is available over at bandcamp