Withered - _Folie Circulaire_
(Prosthetic, 2008)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (9 out of 10)
Noncommital and indeterminate -- yet hardly to a fault -- Withered navigate the mirage-like tightrope between death, black, sludge and post metal in that distant hinterland of experimental zeitgeist triangulated between the noise punk of Converge / Dillinger Escape Plan, the reclaimed, arhythmic nu metal fallout of Mastodon / Intronaut, and the scorched earth apoplexy of Rwake / Eyehategod. As usual, the success of this type of alchemical reformulation lies largely in the band's ability to reign it all in and create something coherent out of an odd jumble of parts, particularly because it's the historical tendency to fail in this one particular regard. Curiously, _Folie Circulaire_ excels by inverting those aesthetics and instead presenting a summation of parts that's actually greater than the whole.

What that means is that the album as an entity is hardly of a piece, but as individual elements, the seasick, lurching bass lines, the mix-and-match art-death riffs, the schizo-frenetic rhythmic transitions... all make a favorable impression, although it's hard to recall later what it all added up to. How does that 90 second bass line, unmolested by other tones and textures, tie together the unrelated spazz thrash songs that book end it on "Reveal the Essence of Suffering"? Is it an answer to the murky submersion of "To Embrace", an above the waterline beacon cutting through the fog, or has anything really been thought out to quite that extent? The evidence would seem to say "yes". The opening moments of "Dichotomy of Exile" echo the foreboding mimetics of "To Embrace", and several times throughout -- in lieu of guitar solos -- the drums recede altogether and allow the guitars to toll away in fatalistic abjection.

But by the same token, there is a restless boundlessness underscoring the band members' difficulty in keeping up with their own creativity. Beau Brandon's never stagnant, always brilliant percussion is a force of nature, compelling the other members on to new terra with little regard from whence they moments ago emerged. The other instrumental, "The Forsaken Truth", draws a line in the sand between the album's early art metal and the later thrash-laced tracks. The problem is, this boundary doesn't exist. Whereas "The Fated Breath" and "Gnosis Unveils" may have been inherently doom laden avant garde which tended to devolve into blackened death at times, the second half of _Folie Circulaire_ mirrors that ethos: with "Purification of Ignorance" and "Clamor Beneath", Withered constantly interrupt their mid-'90s death/grind orgies with unsolicited, jarring goth dronology, all before wrapping things up with a faithful cover of Necrophobic's "Into Armageddon". It's as if the band preempted criticism of their manic lack of cohesion by making confusion the whole point to begin with.

Contact: http://www.withered.net

(article published 17/9/2008)

1/27/2011 A McKay 9.5 Withered - Dualitas
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