Withered Earth - Of Which They Bleed
Olympic Recordings
Brutal Technical Death Metal
12 songs (45'04")
Release year: 2003
Olympic Recordings
Reviewed by Alex

Withered Earth from upstate New York plays brutal unrelenting death metal. Generally speaking, I find myself to be in the testy mood when a CD with this style of music makes it to my CD player. This last week, when I had to come up with the review of Of Which They Bleed, I felt a little vulnerable with a load of personal and work related shit going on around me. A couple of times I would pop the album, and somehow it wasn’t clicking. So, one of the evenings I took my wife’s car for a ride to listen to Withered Earth latest output (the truth is, her new SUV has much better audio system). With volume turned on 10, driving mindlessly, it started to come together for me.

Of Which They Bleed is unmistakably pure American NY style pummeling death metal (see Immolation and Cannibal Corpse for definition). Guitar riffs and rhythm section synchronize their thunder on a single plane into one, mostly mid-pace, rumble. This is one manly music. Withered Earth infuse this style with quite a bit of technicality which makes it special. The band switches from intense barbaric blast to slower technical guitar playing to a headbanging groove effortlessly. I would almost call their riffs “jazzy” hearing how quirky and non-linear they can be (BDT). The band’s groove is fairly “twisted” as well (Suicide of Arrangement), not willing to settle in monotonous chugging, except for a few songs (Lifeless, Soulless, Hated and Feared and Caverns of the Mind). It is very interesting to hear how the band goes in and out of a particular rhythm. For example, From Ripe to Spoil is one ever accelerating avalanche which turns into a giant snowball in the end. The bass playing (I guess the band went through two bassists in this recording) is simply awesome. It can reverb, solo and still hold everything together. Brian Spade on drums does not punctuate every beat with a snare kick, but if my hands weren’t holding onto the wheel, I’d play air drums constantly trying to follow the guy’s every pedal punch and stick crunch. The overall production is incredibly thick and accentuates the “not for sissies” attitude even more.

When I got home, I thought to myself: “Let me just take a few notes, and my review will be ready in no time”. Here came the catch. My notes were similar for … just about every song on the album. Some can call it consistency, but others call it monotony. It could be that guttural, little variation from the norm, vocals by Adam Bonacci are quite the same throughout. The strongest part of the album is three tracks that come in succession: Under the Merciless, Ruins and Only Weakness is Inhuman. The latter is “almost” melodic with a particularly clean middle break and solo. Another highlight is Worlds Without End with its roaring intro, catchy riffs and two searing solos. Somehow these four cuts are a little more varied in their delivery, and come off as being more memorable. The closing title track brings in a touch of thrash at the beginning only to go into a regular death metal pummel with Adam vocals being particularly tortured.

Some people who recommended this album to me said that Of Which They Bleed is one of the best offerings in American death metal as of late. It is, no question, a solid slab, just not the one I will find myself playing over and over again. Immolation’s Unholy Cult on the other hand will get that distinction.

My final recommendation for readers: if you are into this style – you will find Of Which They Bleed the most satisfying and technically challenging, if you are new to death metal – stay the hell away from it, the album will scare you away forever.

Killing Songs :
Under the Merciless, Ruins, Only Weakness is Inhuman, From Ripe to Spoil, Worlds Without End
Alex quoted 75 / 100
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