June 26, 2008 | | 4

Withered, Folie Circulaire

I struggled with the start to this review several times, continually pounding on the backspace button. I mean, how the hell do you go about successfully capturing in words the unholy union of black metal, grind-core and punk elements along with sweeping, dramatic melodies? And let’s not forget that said vile concoction is being piped in from a sludge lined vat in some abandoned warehouse in Atlanta, GA. Thankfully, I don’t have to say too much. I just have to point you toward Withered’s latest release Folie Circulaire.

The album consists of ten tracks filled with sludgy grind-core tainted with black metal overtones, aggressive riffing, dramatic moments and guttural vocals. The rhythms throughout the album are equally capable of pounding you into submission with churning blasts as they are at setting the mood for the more dramatic, darker moments on the disc. The guitars blister their way through hellish riffing and infectious hooks, yet are still capable of lulling you into a drowsy state with melodic tones before kicking you in the head with another soul crushing riff. The vocals are raw, coarse and guttural and fit with the grinding onslaught perfectly.

To Embrace…
Discordant guitars ebb slowly from the speakers on this short instrumental opener — the layered tones help set the mood for the rest of the album.

…The Fated Breath
Withered quickly shift into a driving bit of sludgy riffage with catchy drum work for the start of this next song for the first 30 seconds or so before the caustic, guttural vocals come in. Despite all of the noise in the guitars and the explosions at the drums, this black metal influenced track has a decent groove to it. “…The Fated Breath” also features Barney Greenway of Napalm Death on guest vocals — though his presence is more in the background, it works as a great counter to the more harsh, scream filled lead vocals. There’s a great explosion of activity at the 4:20 mark that is fueled with driving drums and shredding black metal influenced guitars.

Dichotomy Of Exile
This next song starts off quietly with slowly developing melancholy guitars before driving drums come in at about the 30 second mark, then the guitars shifts into sludgy riffing. Again, there’s a decent groove flowing in the grime of this track. The two minute mark sees a full on grinding, black metal influenced assault with higher pitched vocals and machine gun drums that continues for a good minute. There’s also a short lived lead just before some seriously guttural vocals at the four minute point.

Gnosis Unveils…
Some more melancholy and dark guitars along with creative, but light, drum work start off “Gnosis Unveils…” Thick, crusty bass come in just before the one minute mark that nearly suffocate the rest of the band. There are some really dramatic and soulful tones throughout the first three minutes of the track. Once the vocals kick in, all chaotic hell breaks loose. Spastic drums, driving riffs and thundering rhythms hit hard from every direction as guttural vocals emanate from out of no where.

…The Forsaken Truth
This short instrumental starts off with discordant guitar noise that carries the dark moods from the previous songs.

Purification Of Ignorance
After the lulling tones of the previous track, “Purification Of Ignorance” explodes with raging black metal riffing and deep guttural vocals. The drumming is maniacal for the first half a minute or so before the group slows it down briefly for a softer bit of guitar work. Melodic and melancholy guitars sweep along as layered vocals growl and bark in the background. At 3:18 we get a huge scream that induces manic drum work and hellish riffing.

Drawn Black Drapes…
I love the opening guitar work and driving drums to this one. The mid-tempo pace will keep your head nodding along as the vocals come in. I hope you’re buckled in cause you’re gonna need something at the 1:45 mark when Armageddon arrives with maniacal drumming and nasty black metal riffing vomit from your speakers for the next minute or so.

…Reveal The Essence Of Suffering
The fury of “Drawn Black Drapes…” continues with this next track as heavy drum work opens it up. The pace is increased dramatically at the :30 mark as the layered vocals come in violently. Driving riffs carry the momentum through to just before the two minute point as the band slows a good deal to let the slower listeners catch up. The track has a decent section featuring slow bass and guitars around the three minute point. The pace is picked back up a minute later with crushing riffs and skull pummeling drums. There are some really nice, memorable riffs to end out the track.

Clamor Beneath
Here’s another one featuring Barney Greenway on guest vocals. I think his contribution on this one fits in better with the overall sound of the song. Chugging riffs and steady rhythms open the song up with guttural vocals. There’s an infectious groove in the beginning to this one that’s easy to get wrapped up in. The multiple tempo changes throughout the song as manic drum blasts and driving riffs dominate.

Into Armageddon
The final track on the album is a faithful cover of Necrophobic’s “Into Armageddon.”

~ ~ ~

Withered’s Folie Circulaire is one hell of an album. The sludgy feel to the mixture of black metal, grind and punk seems so natural when listening to this album. Add in dramatic and melancholy tones here and there and you’ve got yourself a premium sophomore effort from this highly touted group.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: