Withdrawn - _The Strongest Will_
(Great Dane Records, 2012)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (5 out of 10)
I'm finding more and more death metal albums that remind me of coffee. An odd association? Allow me to explain. You see, as soon as you grind your coffee beans, the aroma is released and a sudden intoxication takes over you. The intensity rises as you start consuming your freshly brewed cup. The effects of the caffeine begin to accumulate in your blood, but as you get closer to the end of your batch, a hint of disappointment comes along. It comes amidst the overpowering bitterness of having taken too much out of these few humble beans. Unpleasant, isn't it? That seems to be a trend that I'm noticing, and it's not making me any more excited about the future of death metal.

So now we have more death metal fran├žais coming our way in 2012, this time from Bordeaux's Withdrawn. Yet unlike the most recent offerings from their fellow countrymen Gorod and Gojira, _The Strongest Will_ unfortunately doesn't rank highly among the French hordes of angriness. The brutality is there, the technicality is there, but they are almost everywhere. Turn your ears to any run-of-the-mill death metal album these days and you'll find the guitars being trilled with millimeter precision and the drums being pounded as if driven by 10,000 rpm industrial sized crank shafts. But then what? Genre saturation seems like a good answer.

With _The Strongest Will_, you get no surprises. The majority of the exchanges are very typical, save for that cool riff in the middle of "Ignominious Shell" and that transition in the middle of "Oblivion". They're probably the highest points of intelligence on this album, but they come off as sharp peaks amidst a valley of mediocrity. Despite this standard creative approach, this a very well produced album indeed. Clarity endures through a lot of clutter over the album's forty-three minute length. The bass guitar achieves an audible status on a few occasions, and the differences between the cymbals are mostly obvious. My only problem with the production is the lack of variety in guitar sounds. With such standard death metal writing, some actions from the guitars would have been much appreciated. Unfortunately, Withdrawn opted for a very safe album that hardly pokes my interest.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/withdrawn1

(article published 7/10/2012)

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