Withered- Dualitas

By Max Hofacker

Published on Sunday, January 2, 2011

This review is long overdue, and has provided me with more than enough time to listen to and consider Withered’s newest release. Nevertheless, over the past month or two I have found myself listening not to “Dualitas”, but to Withered’s 2008 release, “Folie Circulaire”. I have not neglected “Dualitas”, of course, but the division of time spent between the two is drastically skewed. Allow me to explain – Withered (comparatively speaking) is a very new tenant in my musical library, and my familiarity with their style and talents is understandably limited. I stumbled across “Folie Circulaire” earlier this year, and was absolutely awe-struck. Seamlessly blending elements from ruthless black metal, sludgy southern post-metal, and technical groove metal, the end result was a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. When “Dualitas” was released, I looked forward to a similarly-impressive album, but after a listening to it a dozen times or so…well, it just doesn’t stack up. Only the tracks ‘From Shadows’ and ‘Aethereal Breath’ seem to carry on the spirit of the band’s previous work, and frankly, I’m sad to see such a style abandoned. If I were pressed to specify my disappointment in “Dualitas”, I think I would condense my complaints to one subject – the drums. Drums carry the weight of most albums due to their important role in keeping time, but as the loudest natural instrument in music, they also have the power to overpower and spoil an album with relative ease. “Dualitas” features a much more significant utilization of distracting blast-beats than its predecessor, which (in my humble opinion) toe the dangerously thin line between ‘metal’ and ‘noise’. The technical, groove-oriented time signatures of “Folie Circulaire” (that I enjoyed immensely) are largely abandoned.

Some may say otherwise, but I think it’s perfectly fair to judge a band based on prior releases. How else can you measure an artist’s merits if not by their achievements? I’m sorry if this has seemed more of a lament for “Folie Circulaire” than a review of “Dualitas”, but when a new album sits so squarely in the shadow of an old one, I just can’t help but point it out. It’s human nature to expect things to improve over time, and when bands take what we see as a step backward, it seems strange and unusual. I encourage you to listen to “Dualitas” and form your own opinion, but in the meantime, I’m sure you can guess which album I’LL be listening to…



Full Disclosure: Review copy provided by Prosthetic Records

Leave a Reply