REVIEW: Within Destruction – Lotus [2022]

Artist: Within Destruction
Album: Lotus

Within Destruction, since their inception, have had no problem making waves within the heavy music community. Beginning with their breakout release, Void—the album that earned them international notoriety by combining vicious slamming death metal with crushing deathcore—or Deathwish, the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed follow-up that saw the band embrace the “fake slam” moniker, the band rapidly established themselves as a force to be feared in the realm of heavy music. Then came Yokai, a record that saw Within Destruction change directions into something with vaguely poppy sensibilities and a distinct flair for Asian culture. The record was polarizing to say the least, but despite the infusion of nu metal and hip-hop, Within Destruction proved they were still immensely capable of punishing brutality. One question arose, however: where would the band go from here? The answer is Lotus, a robust forty-plus minute long exercise in head-on fusion between elements of Deathcore, hip-hop, nu-metal and alternative rock that feels every bit the spiritual successor to Yokai. Taking the more “adventurous” elements of their third full length record and building upon them, on Lotus Within Destruction finally leave the lions share of their “Deathcore” style behind, with both feet firmly planted in the realm of metalcore—but with roots sprawling well beyond those confines, drawing from progressive metal, hip-hop, trap, nu metal, alternative rock, active rock, electronic music—you get it. Lotus is by far the band’s biggest departure from their origin, and in as much sees them make their biggest victories, but also take their biggest risks and succumb to their most glaring pitfalls.
Yokai saw Within Destruction taking a small step back from their standard fare of pulverizing blast beats and skin-shredding leads to create something catchier, groovier and less dense. Lotus continues that trend, with a sound that falls somewhere between the modern progressive metalcore stylings of bands like Sentinels or Born of Osiris and bands with heavy-handed, glitzy production and an electronic flair a la Crystal Lake or Enter Shikari. Ultimately, it works—and pretty damn well at that—in creating a release that has both heavier, more oppressive moments and more anthemic, catchy tracks as a counterpart. An example of the former would be “Dehumanized” or “Illusions”—probably the closest Within Destruction get to Deathcore throughout their release—with technically monstrous percussion and fretwork heavy in both mind-bending leads and bone-busting breakdowns. Other songs like “Neo-Yakuza” and “Dying World” are essentially refined examples of trap-metal, blending bouncy grooves into a heavily hip-hop influenced backbone. Between these two extremes, tracks like those which define the front half of the record—“Toxic” and “Nightmare” come to mind—feel almost like revitalized Linkin Park songs; a gritty, nu-metallic backbone infused with elements of metalcore and alternative rock, finished with a thin dusting of industrial metal. Between these various styles, Within Destruction absolutely succeed in keeping the listener guessing, as it’s never really clear what kind of song you’ll get next—but the flip-side is also true; with so many different styles vying for center stage on one release, none of them ever really actually do take center stage—so it’s tempting to skip through portions of the release to get to whatever style fits the listener’s mood. Despite this, Lotus flows surprisingly well, and while Within Destruction certainly go out of their way to try new and different things at basically every point throughout the release, at no point does anything instrumental on the record feel forced or unnatural.
Just as the band’s musicianship took a turn in the transition from Yokai to Lotus, the band’s vocal element, understandably, followed suit. While still dominated by blistering screams, the band favors a raw, mid-range yell with occasional forays into more extreme territory—and singing of several varieties now appears on the lion’s share of the songs throughout the band’s latest full length. True enough—“Dehumanized” feels like it could have been on Yokai—but a great majority of the record sees the band blend singing, screaming and elements of rapping throughout most of the release. Where this sounds excellent is with the dynamics found within “Toxic” and “Dying World.” Where it works less well is “Neo-Yakuza,” which is perhaps the band’s biggest leap into the relatively cringey domain of trap metal. Here, strong verses are undermined by a chorus that is catchy in the worst ways imaginable. The chorus—and by extension the song—is Lotus’ single most skippable moment and glaring flaw, souring what is otherwise a diverse and enjoyable record, both vocally and instrumentally.
Within Destruction made a sound record on Lotus, and while fans of their heavier style will continue to be disappointed in the lack of brutalizing blast beats and slam-tinted breakdowns, there is still plenty to enjoy both on the heavier and the-not-so-heavy sides. The only question hot on the heels of Lotus is what will Within Destruction sound like on their next record?

For Fans Of: Sentinels, Born of Osiris, Enterprise Earth, Crystal Lake
By: Connor Welsh