Withered is part of an influx of newer, up and coming blackened whatever bands from the United States that for some reason, I can never keep straight. I keep getting them confused with Lightning Swords of Death and Black Anvil for some reason. That is not to say that they sound like the other bands, they really do not, just that I have a hard time remembering which band is which sometimes. After hearing the album though, I think I will have an easier time with Withered.
Withered is a blackened death metal band with occasional leanings toward sludge or even drone doom. The album opens with the hard-charging "Extinguished with the Weary" which eventually segues into a more atmospheric sludgy sound. This is not necessarily an album for those looking for punishing and brutal black/death metal. Withered is more reserved and contemplative. Opting for deep, sonic soundscapes over blackened brutality, yet retaining a cold and hostile atmosphere. Withered can still bring the pain on occasion though, just look at "Residue in the Void".
The sound of the album is rich and full, but dark and abyss-like at the same time. There is a lot going on, but it is very foreboding and intimidating. The drums attack like jackhammers and the guitar riffs are sharp and heavy. The vocals are delivered in an ominous roar, like a Lovecraftian monster warning a human of oncoming danger.
My favorite track on the album is "Seek the Shrouded" due to the swirling guitar riffs, pounding drums, and grotesque vocal delivery. It is one of the rare punishing tracks from start to finish on the album. That is not to say that the more atmospheric, droning parts in other songs are bad, just that this was the track to stick with me after the album was over.
This is not a long album, only about 43 minutes, but it feels like a lot longer. Not to say it is tedious or anything. Quite the opposite in fact. This is such an engrossing album that it leaves the listener weary. It is not so much an album, as it is an event. A dark and hostile, suffocating event. But is that not what we look for in certain types of metal?
I am emotionally drained after having heard this album for the first time. It is a bewildering album, one which I wish I would have discovered just weeks earlier as it would have ranked very high on my Top 10 list for the year. This is simply, an incredible listening experience.