Grief Relic from underground gluttons for punishment Withered is highly anticipated and well worth the wait. From the moody but almost delicately deadly Paul Romano artwork to the agonized and soul-torn display of bruising, blackened death riffs and bellowed howls, this is perhaps the finest release to date from these Southern not so gentleman. “Leathery Rind” builds up into a repeated, hammering riff until “A Realm Of Suffering” blasts us into six minutes of daredevil edgy gutter speed paired with other passages that crawl and agonize.
Withered’s buzzing and angry riffs often tap a perversely melodic vein and let the blood run, the songs having just that more emotional impact as a result compared to some death metal bands more concerned on technicality than being oppressive. Heck, “Downward” is all about completely losing your shit through trauma, from what I have read, so oppressive isn’t an issue for these guys. That song also has some murky and more thumping and percussive sections that prove they are a good fit for their current dates with Inter Arma. It’s so awesome to be alive in a time for metal where the quality underground bands like these guys, Inter Arma or say, The Body/Full Of Hell record emphasize pushing things through manipulation of raw feeling, slower, dirges and chaotic textures just as much as speed.
I mean, much of this sounds like it is well recorded but that you also could be listening to it inside a cave leading to Hell or some dive bar in the swampy asshole of a hot drunken shithole town as it is is swallowed by an Ash Vs Evil Dead sinkhole.
“Distort, Engulf” almost has a sort of Morbid Angel feel for half a second but quickly becomes something a lot more avant garde and relentlessly sociopathic. Probably my favorite on here for sheer intensity, like some bile spewing exorcism of pains deeply coiled around your core. This would scare your average Slayer or Soulfly fan who aren’t prepared yet for this next level of extreme, nothing against those greats (In fact, the solo on this one sort of recalls Reign In Blood-era Slayer over some kind of hellacious Celtic Frost or bastardized Bathory riff). Still, Withered bring the sort of darkness a Black Anvil or even Nails fan relates to more than older thrash types.
Grief Relic sort of feels like when you realize their is no outrunning the cards you have been dealt or the fallout from some decisions and how you choose to manage that. Do you fold up, “Withdraw” and die or dare “To Glimpse Godliness” chasing away your demons through uncompromising art? Withered have sided with the latter and this is as great as American truly extreme metal gets these days. Let’s help keep these guys around.
There is not much of a chance this WON’T be on my year end list but it’s only the end of May and thinking like that already is too stressful, hahaha.