Chuck Schuldiner Project

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Withering October

     I don't really have anything remotely interesting to put down as an introductory paragraph on this one, so let's get down to the matter of the music.

     Withering October is one of those bands that I want to love, but I just can't. In a lot of ways they bear a semblance to the last band I reviewed, Sons of Torment, in they're failures. They're a completely different genre, but the concept of doing everything right, yet so wrong stays the same. I would venture as far as to say that Wither October's timbrel, atmospheric, and emotional facets transcend that of the former band in quantity, but fall behind in quality. Sons of Torment was bland and dry, but what little flare they did have in their music, they handled well. Withering October's melodic style, branching from folk inspired metal a la Finntroll or Alestorm, to more ambient, reflective pieces that are somewhat of an oddity to me right now, whose best approximation would probably be Lacuna Coil, suffers from a strong sense of false depth. Withering October's overly simplistic slow passages, with what I understand to be "beat melodies", invite in aspects of mainstream music that metal, to its core, is supposed to oppose and eliminate. This is particularly evident in the pads and synths that Withering October employs so gratuitously. Even worse are the tacky, overdone moments when an ambient passage turns into some guitar chords. There's nothing wrong with the concept, but it gets old and tiresome, and is rarely pulled off well. From time to time the sound will come together with riffs that sound like they were taken from an Alestorm "b-side" in both tone and structure, with the lukewarm female vocals and various pads in the background to form something that feels coherent and fairly rich, "Deep down in the Dark" is a good example. From time to time, Withering October will even break out with some full out metal, with the male lead singer unloading some growls along with a few slower power chords and occasionally an Alestorm like riff as outlines above.

     Reviewing the music on an instrument by instrument basis, there isn't terribly much to be found with Withering October. The clean male vocals are largely lower, spoken vocals that remind me of Pink Floyd, and sung vocals that sound a touch nasally and erratic. The growls noticeably break up to a tone of the sung vocals, a trait indigenous to newer or untrained metal vocalists in my experience. The female vocals are prevailingly good, with appropriate breath control and tone. For me personally though, the smoky, "smoother" tone is a bit of deal breaker. It just doesn't sound really articulate and doesn't convey as much emotion as an airier, slightly sharper tone would. the drums and guitar both fit the bill for ambient music, slow, generally not that interesting. From a quality-obsessed perspective, Withering October's recording quality seems to be on par with their music's quality, that is to say, "meh". The kick drums are loud enough to intrude on the rest of the music, and the overall quality is staticy and tinny sounding throughout the mid and upper ranges.

     To wrap things up, Withering October is a comparatively weak entry, and should look into exploring different aspects of their music more in depth, upping the experimentalism, to strengthen their sound to be something worth listening to. Re-recording with nicer equipment definitely wouldn't hurt, and a larger focus on the female vocals would overcome the shortcomings of the male vocalist. For the interests of the people who just skip the bulk of the text, I will add a score as always to this review.


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