Author: T.K. White
Album: Grief Relic
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Label: Season of Mist
Withered is an odd band considering they fell apart, yet managed to hang on by a thread which happens to be named Mike Thompson. Thankfully, after everyone left Thompson he was able to find other prominent artists (Colin Marston, Ethan McCarthy) to help cauterize the wound; however, that is not so much the case, but I will get that in a moment.
Truthfully, I had very high hopes for this record only to be mildly disappointed. Metal Archives shows that each of Withered’s release get progressively “better” according to their average ratings, but this one seems to be a step back, but also a step forward; the first two tracks “Leathery Rind,” and “A Realm of Suffering,” are incredibly forgettable—at points, annoying. I am usually a fan of Marston’s production and I loved his work on the new Gorguts’ sound, yet here, most of the album is just really muddy and mottled. One of the clearer moments comes from a hideously placed solo in the second track, “A Realm of Suffering” and considering it is the longest track on the record, I expected it to be one of the stronger tracks, instead, it’s incredibly weak until the last minute and a half when a genuinely catchy and evil sounding riff finally gives purpose to the track.
Vocally, I really dislike this record. Both Thompson’s harrowing howls and McCarthy’s throaty gurgles appear on the record, but, despite having those descriptions of each individual’s voice, it’s near impossible to tell who is doing what. As for deciphering the lyrics—you’re gonna need the lyric sheet for this one—it’s near impossible to do without reading them as you go.
Track three is when the album finally starts to make some waves. The production actually sounds better on from here on out and at first I thought it was just my headphones so I tried a set of different in-ears, a pair of over-ears, and my car stereo—the production definitely gets better from “Withdraw” on.
“Feeble Grasp” is one of my favorite tracks. The opening riff is just fat, thick, and weighs a ton. The transition from the intro into the chaos is well done as well. The tremolo styled riffing keeps the same weight that the opener did and Thompson’s hallowed voice shrieks out as if a ghost ghouling you in the night.
On my first listen, I immediately dug “Husk” and I could not place why and then it hit me, the introduction reminded me of Gorguts’ Colored Sands. I wonder why. The highlight of the album comes from “Distort, Engulf” when both Thompson and McCarthy attack the listener at the same time. The dual vocal approach may appear elsewhere in the record, but none as vile and punishing; vocally and musically the track is incredibly dense and heavy, just as it should be.
I have to say, I’m somewhat disappointed in Mr. Marston on this album. The production just did not seem benefit the music, instead detract. It was cavernous at times and unlistenable at others and what this album really needed was to have the fat trimmed and made into an EP. The meat of the record is outstanding, but the first two and the last track are not on par with the rest which brought the album down, as a whole, quite a bit. If they had just released the middle tracks (3-7) this release would have been a 10. Sadly, they didn’t do that.
- T.K. White
Check ’em out here: http://withered.bandcamp.com/album/grief-relic-2