'Wither' is the second full length from Stockholm's Descend. It's a darker release than their debut album, 2011s 'Through The Eyes Of The Burdened', but it still maintains that carefully crafted balance of progressive death Metal, combining melodic harmonies, gently reflective acoustic passages and skin searing Death Metal riffs.
It retains the ability to move easily between the tranquil atmospherics and death Metal brutality making every track an interesting and engaging listen.
The sound is heavy yet still manages to be thought provoking. It often has a good groove and is technical enough to be interesting without being over clever, the drum work is varied with some great patterns, the vocals are pretty decent, a mix of harsh growls and some melodic cleans and the lyrical inspiration is taken from life struggles and sorrow.
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The track lengths vary from a compact two and a half minutes for the beautifully reflective, guitar led, instrumental title track 'Wither' to some typically progressive length monsters such as 'Diabolic' and the closing track 'Sundown' which clocks up a monstrous twelve minutes, but the length seems justified and there is no feeling that the tracks are drawn out or long winded.
The album takes you, from the opening drum work on 'Confined By Evil' to the gentle closing guitars of 'Sundown', on a journey that is dark and thought provoking, at times intense and extreme with a decidedly malevolent edge but is always attention grabbing and enjoyable.
This isn't an album where I can easily choose a favourite track as they are all pretty consistent and no track in particular stands out above the others, but there are elements that stand out within the tracks.
'Confined By Evil' has such a huge and hypnotic extended opener that when the first vocal roar hit home I was knocked sideways in surprise and I loved the Spanish style acoustic segment just before the final onslaught.
'The Rancorous Paradigm' has a good groove and intricate drum patterns that sit well alongside the vocal growls. Excellent spiralling technical riffs on 'In Hours Of Despair' and once again the drum patterns are stunning while 'Severance' is very technically stylish in its construction.
Although this isn't an album where your ears feel like they need respite from the intensity of the sound, 'Whither' is still a beautiful and welcome instrumental oasis before the final three longer length tracks. Dark from the opening notes 'Diabolic' has a sinister repeat riff and spoken lyrics are used to good effect.
The acoustic opener on 'From Grace To Grave' once again has a Spanish feel drum and guitar before building in intensity and developing as the track progresses, becoming intense and dark, broken up midway and at the close with more well placed acoustic work.
Marathon length final track 'Sundown' takes it's time to build and develop, a great track with a good groove, great drums and lots of tempo change; it's full of surprises.
Wither is a great release and even the cover artwork is thought provoking. It is certainly an album that should bring Descend to the forefront of progressive death Metal.