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Memento Mori
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Memento Mori is the debut release of American extreme metal band Withered, in many ways evocative of the first generation nihilistic death metal acts like Unleashed, Entombed, and Dismember. With numerous sludgy elements comprised of slow, agonizing riffage that also recall modern bands Mastodon, the album takes you on a short musical journey back in time when the earlier Swedish metal bands were at their creative peak, playing relentless death metal heavier than a ten-ton hammer.

Arguably the best release Lifeforce Records have put out in 2005, Memento Mori mostly stands out with its dark atmosphere, delving into black metal territory, especially on the short cuts "Silent Grave" and "Fear and Pain That Cripples Me". Tremelo-picked guitar riffs abound the tracks with a similarity to the black/death extremity of Dissection, the normally grinding vocals of Chris Freeman and Mike Thompson turn into maniacal screaming over an impressive technical lead solo. The dark atmosphere is also evident on the almost 9-minute album finale "Among Sorrow", loaded with pulverizing sludge riffs, spoken vocals, and an almost doomy style. The dark vibe of the song will please many Immolation fans.

With all that said, the centrepiece of Memento Mori is the other 8-minute number "Like Locusts". The song embodies everything Withered is about, from a sludgy build-up in the intro that breaks into a passage filled with massive guitar lines, shifts of complex rhythms marked by fiery drumming, brutal vocals that border on grindcore, and a very distorted bass bottom. Fans of Mastodon and Isis are going to drool over "Beyond Wrath" for its long drawn-out instrumental section, rock-solid riffs, and Chris Freeman's tortured vocals. The riff at the end of this song is simply out of this world. Next to Mastodon, Withered are a band that have excelled in playing awesome guitar riffs that characterize the essence of their brutality. Given the proper promotion and a tour in support of a huge band, Withered could enjoy considerable success in the metal community.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
WITHERED - Memento Mori

-

Withered has found away to combine all things heavy into their pulverizing debut Memento Mori. Taking sludge and doom metal to new heights (Or should I say `Lows'?) with a combination of blistering grind and black, death metal. The atmosphere created is comparable to older Isis or Neurosis, yet much, much darker in scope. Their addition of thriving low lying guitar harmonies are often at times the only glimpse of beauty in their dark musical delivery. The thundering low-end (distorted) bass and Scrowled* vocals are reminiscent, at times, of Troy from Mastodon. And the drum work is a mix between simplistic pounding rhythms and complex tribal vibes.

[*SCROWLED (Skr_owl_d) - A combination of Screaming and Growling*

NOTE: Made up word - DO NOT USE in everyday speech. - You will sound like an idiot!]

Fear not, Withered is no clone... in fact this band seems to have so many influences it is difficult to determine standard classifications ,so for genre sake I will just call it Heavy Metal.

This release is solid, especially for a debut... more so, the potential they have is undeniable.

Favorite Songs: Within Your Grief, Among Sorrow, and Beyond Within.

-4.5

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Withered are one of extreme metal's best, brightest, and most talented, confident, and promising new prospects. Thus, even though they were under contract with Lifeforce records when their debut was released, it makes perfect sense that this Georgia-based quartet would go on to sign with Prosthetic Records (home to such rapidly rising talents as Gojira, Neuraxis, and Beneath the Massacre.) Withered are also indisputably one of extreme metal's most unique and innovative bands. That aforementioned debut, 2005's pulverizing "Memento Mori," is a monstrous amalgam of (more-or-less) all things heavy: sludge, doom, crust, grindcore, American death metal, Swedish-inspired melodeath, black metal, hardcore, thrash, prog, and post metal. In the end, this album falls somewhere between fellow Georgians Mastodon, High On Fire, Neurosis, Isis, Dismember, In Flames, Napalm Death, Strapping Young Lad, Dissection/1349, Black Sabbath, Meshuggah, Grave, Suffocation, and Dillinger Escape Plan.

This is one highly technical, unrelenting, earth-scorching tsunami of an album. Opener "It's All Said" begins with a Napalm Death-esque blur of instruments (it sounds like everybody in the band is soloing all at once), followed by a racing tempo that's absolutely breakneck. Sure, the band toss in an impressive stop-on-a-dime tempo change (thus sending the song into a really doomy dirge), but it's not long before the onslaught commences with frantic, searing, lightning fast guitar leads and superbly deft, pounding, crashing drums. "Within Your Grief" is a much more subdued follow-up with longer and more extended breaks, a sluggish drum beat, some tasty melodic soloing, and it's all anchored by a prominently grumbling bass line.

"Like Locusts" is the epic, eight-minute third track that goes through numerous complex tempo/mood shifts. It begins with a bit of repetitive, calmly-strummed strings before the rest of the band inevitably storm onto the scene with lots of forceful, pummeling (and almost devastating) blast beats and grindcore-worthy vocals. The song proceeds to grind to almost a complete stop a ways in, and stays in a dark breakdown a la My Dying Bride (highlighted by ominous guitar feedback, reverberating drums, neat guitar melodies, and a dirtily distorted bass bottom end) for about a minute. But then "Like Locusts" storms back as strong as ever with churning riffs, energetic drumming, and mean, dirty, unintelligible growls. Following that, "Silent Grave" is a brutal, straightforward, foundation shaking, ear hair-singing blitzkrieg of scalding, 1349-style tremolo picking, and maniacally screamed hardcore vocals. Track six, "Fear and Pain That Cripples Me," follows suit later on.

The really moody and doomy fifth track, "Beyond Wrath," features several minutes of long, drawn-out, instrumental sections that are comparable to the likes of Mastodon and Isis. It builds on its own momentum and gains speed and density to the point where the song is almost blindingly fast. Lastly, "Among Sorrow" is a wonderful, nine-minute-long set closer that begins with a bone-chilling intro before launching into whiplash speeds with gobs of frenetic, driving, slamming skins and freakish, creepy spoken-word vocals. "Among Sorrow" is so unpredictable that until it eventually ends with a nice, atmospheric, outro, the listener is never really certain which direction the song will go next. It actually feels like you're being tied between ten rockets, each of which is going in a different direction. Good stuff.

Bare in mind that with an only seven song and thirty-six minute running time, "Memento Mori" is a fairly short album. That aside, however, this is a very memorable, expansive, intelligent, remarkable, meticulous, enjoyable, well-written, and crushingly heavy debut. And if there's any justice left in the world, Withered will soon get the worldwide attention and success that they so desperately deserve (be on the lookout!). After all, they might still be a bit young, but they are already firing on all cylinders. Very impressive, indeed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Defining "heavy" is something of a grey area, and I've found over the years it divides metal fans down the middle. Does sublimely fast black metal make for the most "heavy" brand? Or is it actually the most severe of slow doom/drone with the thickest, most otherworldly guitar tone? Well, Withered don't give a s**t about this argument. They play both. Well.

Yes, death/doom/grindcore is Withered's deal. It's not a new sound at all - in fact, one of doom's most heralded bands, My Dying Bride, used to gallop into black metal territory with gay abandon. But Withered sound utterly heavier. More raw, more engulfing...just all round more brutal. Their sound has an uncomfortable claustrophobic feeling, largely thanks to a very thick guitar production which I really dig. And they switch between tempos and styles at brake-neck speed with absolute ease. The changes come fast, and out of nowhere. No pretentious atmospherics, or bridges building up climaxes - it's just hit after hit. Opener "It's All Said" sets all this up perfectly, ripping through a variety of riffs and speeds, all encapsulating their thundering, juicy guitar sound, abrasive vocals and lightening drumming. My favourite track here is "Like Locusts", mostly for its enormously heavy and beautiful doom opening. It's up there with the very best doom openings and riffs I've heard, and I'm an avid listener of the genre, so it's saying something. The rest of the songs follow suit, and there isn't really a dull moment to be found.

"Memento Mori" is a very solid debut and promises much for this talented act. Worth checking out for fans of doom/death metal.
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