Thursday, February 17, 2011

Withered: Dualitas (2010)


One of the most interesting developments in metal recently has been the combination of two polar opposites: sludge metal and black metal. The former, heavy, slow, and warm. The latter, trebly, fast, and cold. And the thing about new genres and subgenres is, one of the first bands on the scene is almost always the best one. Blackened sludge, thy name is Withered.

DualitasOpener "Extinguished with the Weary" sets the stage, starting out with blast beats and all-out tremolo riffing, then slowing down into melodic sludge. It shows you something new, a band that combines Georgia sludge with black metal (to my mind, it seems to be specifically the Norwegian variety, i.e., as polar opposite as you can get from Georgia sludge). The drumming varies from blast beats to Kylesa-esque rhythms, and the sludge-oriented bass is prominent in the mix. Vocals vary from deep, sludge-inflected death growls to black metal screeches.

But the guitars are something truly unique. Somehow, they've combined the sounds of sludge and black metal, keeping the sludgy reverb and heaviness while adding that misanthropic, evil quality of black metal. The riffs can be Confederate, Scandinavian, or southern played in a northern style.

The music gets its juiciest when they let the two styles contrast, as at the end of "Residue in the Void" where they play a sludge riff over blast beats. The highlight of the album, "From Shadows", has a riff that's (Static Tensions era) Kylesa or Baroness-like, but it never loses its blackened feel. And every track is worthwhile, including the droning (headphones-essential) interlude and outro.

The Verdict: Will it spawn a legion of imitators? Probably. This is an exciting development in metal, but for now it's almost entirely unique. It's a convincing combination of things I wouldn't have thought could be combined. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I've got the opener from a compilation, but I haven't heard the rest of it yet. I'll have to check it out soon.