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Withersoul : Shroud Of Bereavement/Withersoul Split

Born of the cold, pelagic reaches of the Northeast United States, the 'Shroud Of Bereavement/Withersoul Split' is a maritime ensemble of gorgeous melancholia and convention-bending composition. Seraphic vocals permeate the atmosphere of this release, and as such, bestow this album with the perfect balance of beauty and mystery. Those with an appetite for Death/Doom with liberal splashings of gothic epicness will no doubt be glutted heavily upon the cheerless feast to be discovered within.

Shroud of Bereavement begins the morose festivities, offering the listener two songs that threaten to overwhelm with the sheer dark grandeur of classically inspired Death/Doom. Shroud of Bereavement eschews convention with the employment of genuine stringed instruments, delegating the traditionally favored keyboard's role to one of ambience. The resulting sound is depressively baroque, and may draw comparisons to early era Theatre of Tragedy and Morgion. Such flawless orchestration is often absent from many modern releases, and is truly refreshing.

'A Maddening Hue' is a reworked version of 'I Cry', a song intially realized in the band's formative years and included in 2005's ' ...Of Ages'. This newer version is a testament to Shroud of Bereavement's musical maturity and increased artistry. Slowly picked acoustic guitars create a droning folk-wash to set the track's tone, and is slowly joined by a seductive chorus of female voices set against an increasingly prominent assortment of strings. Death Metal vocals are soon generously employed, as are heavily distorted guitars. The slow crawl towards the song's majestic climax are both satisfying and fittingly torturous.

Opting for a more straightfoward approach, '...and Their Tears Shall Flood the Earth' begins with a resonant piano composition before quickly falling to a chugging gothic blast of crushing guitars, strings, and a much more prominent keyboard. This is easily the more ferocious of the collective songs, and finds the guitarwork exhibiting shades of technicality alongside sharpened rhythmic sensibilities. Vocals, both male and their angelic female counterparts, seem darker and edgy. This works in harmony with the strident fluidity of the song, and will be appreciated fervently by advocates of the more extreme.

Withersoul musically provide Shroud of Bereavement with a nearly defectless compliment, as both bands share a few similarities in both lyrical theme and aural execution. Withersoul, however, is the more traditional of the two, describing their sound as "Monolithic Doom/Death Metal". Aggression is abundantly utilized, as well, evidenced by much faster tempos and more intricate guitarwork. Female vocals are also deployed, albeit much differently, taking a more powerful leading role while retaining a decidely organic quality. Withersoul's offering on this release is simply vigorous and pounding.

Withersoul's first track, 'Forever, I Will Burn', is a heavily gothic whiff of furnace dross, complete with swelling diminished chording and blasting drums. An interplay of Death vocals and female singing gives this song an element not unlike that of early Theatre Of Tragedy, though the utter speed of Withersoul's relentless assault quickly obliterates a true comparison. This track offers a very clear picture of Withersoul's technical ability, and exemplifies the harsher melodic elements so prevalent in Death/Doom. From the furiously employed palm mutes to the ethereal synth strings, 'Forever, I Will Burn' is a gothic tour-de-force.

Insidious Eastern-influenced melodies await the listener in 'Descent', Withersoul's second offering. The sheer melodic element of this track is overwhelmingly heartfelt - a prime requisite for memorable songs. Harmonized Egyptian scaling saturate this production, pausing periodically for a dark, muted rhythm. The vocal landscape of this song heavily favors the use of female oration, which blends seamlessly with the song's decidedly Gothic Metal focus. Death Metal vocals puncture the mix sporadically, as if to remind the listener an aggressive tempo change could be lurking around every corner.

'In Emptiness', Withersoul's third and final offering, begins with an ominous blackened screech that becomes quickly assimilated into a bleak landscape of guitar and heavily prominent keyboard. This section instantly conjured memories of The Sins of Thy Beloved, which I regard as a favorable comparison. Without warning, the track suddenly veers into a piano interlude, joined slowly by drums, guitars, and stunning female vocals. Mellow yet intensely performed, the section moves finally into a NWOBHM-esque twin guitar harmony placed nicely against a near virtuosic display of piano ability. Quite the way to end an album! Shroud of Bereavement and Withersoul certainly make their case here as premier acts within the small but potent US Doom scene. This release certainly has something for everyone, and may well be placed in the realm of classic albums for fans of Epic Doom Metal. Both bands make a hefty statement about the their future, which seems to be a quite fruitful one. With material like this, Shroud of Bereavement and Withersoul assure us all they're just getting started.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
Shroud Of Bereavement:
1. A Maddening Hue
2. ...and Their Tears Shall Flood the Earth

3. Forever, I Will Burn
4. Descent
5. In Emptiness

Duration : Approx. 50 minutes.

Visit the Withersoul bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Timothy Coleman
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