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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Withered

Dualitas

Review by Mike Korn

I guarantee this is one of the most punishing and darkest slabs of metal you'll hear in 2010. Atlanta, Georgia would seem an unlikely home for a band as oppressive and crushing as Withered. Sweden or Finland would come to mind more quickly, but nonetheless, these guys have really fired a mortar blast of doom straight into the American metal scene and I hear they are still picking up body parts at the crater.

If you mixed extreme genres such as grindcore, sludge, pure death metal and even a touch of blackness and ambient drone, you'd have Withered in a nutshell. The band switches tempos from super-collider velocity to the ooze of blood leaking from a wound and everything in-between, all smothered in one of the heaviest guitar sounds you are likely to hear. Add an agonizing vocal attack and you've got a formula for something you won't soon forget.

Grab your medication, slap on your crash helmet and set your course straight for the heart of Dualitas.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Extinguished With The Weary

With virtually no build-up, this blasting fragment of blackened shrapnel bowls you over with total ferocity. The bass sound is monstrous, unlike many extreme bands, and it more than matches the thickened grind of the guitars. Watch out for the awesome doom riffs that attack in the middle of the tune.  Whether this is the final scream of the dying or the roar of the beast that does the killing, I'm not sure, but I know it rips!

Residue In the Void
The doom influence is much more pronounced here but the track covers a lot of ground. A weary trudge begins the tune and there's even some depressing acoustic work, but stay tuned, sports fans, because this mother is heavy and throws a shipload of killer riffs at you. It’s a great example of a tune that builds and builds.
Seek the Shrouded
This blows your head off like a point blank blast from a .357 Magnum. Total grinding death combined with hellish roars of doom is what you hear at first, but listen a little closer and you will make out the ghosts of melody in the track and an almost black metal approach to the riffing. In fact, this is one of the best attempts to combine grind and black that I've heard. There's also a cool ultra-distorted bass workout to add some additional flavor.
Interlude
If you were expecting some acoustic or piano flavored breather here, think again. This is a dense, pitch-black drone of guitar distortion with a ton of low end that makes you think Cthulhu is about to rise.
From Shadows
After a weird rubbery intro, this slams into a super powerful mid-paced riff that kind of reminds me of High On Fire but heavier. Some black metal influenced guitar work pops up, as well, but for the most part this focuses more on the medium speed pounding.
The Progenitor's Grasp
A mournful, dissonant solo guitar work-out announces this cut and gives way to a freezing black blast of grinding speed. No mercy is given on this tune, even when the pace drops to a sluggish crawl. Like "Seek The Shrouded,” this combines black metal and grindcore, but in addition tosses a load of sludgy doom in the stew as well.
Aetherial Breath
At eight minutes plus, this is the album's "Magnum Opus" and it doesn't disappoint. The opening portion is slow distorted guitar, heavier than a neutron star that yields to a punishing tribal drum beat and a lighter guitar sound that is, as the title indicates, almost ethereal. This is a very huge, expansive sounding track that covers a ton of ground. I do get a sort of High On Fire feel from the hugeness of the riffs. Everything that sums up Withered can be found on this monster.
Outro
Not a gentle release from the previous denseness, this is more sonic distortion. A howling guitar tone rises and falls like waves on a shore and gradually diminishes to a harsh blur.
 
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