Review Summary: Folie Circulaire wraps a collage of influences around their focused and inspired sophomore effort.
2008 so far in metal (at least to me) has showcased a number of bands that have carved out their own niches over the years, displaying what got them to where they are today and doing so with musical competency. A number of surprises have also popped up out of nowhere that have enticed me to jump up and down at my computer station with comments like “Wow, this is some amazing stuff”. A problem I’ve encountered a few too many times this year is that a large number of newer metal bands showcase too many ideas too quick and leads me to think, “What will they do next"”. It’s like listening to DragonForce for the first time; the speed of their albums is mind boggling until you realize that they are using the same formula throughout each song/ album. Even though DragonForce might have a unique sound, they can become quite a chore to listen to for the duration of one album, let alone four. This is how I feel about a majority of the releases from 2008 that I’ve listened to. One band that has really stuck out for me, in terms of uniqueness and leaving room for future expansion, is Withered. With their sophomore album Folie Circulaire
, Withered leaves room to expand their sound on (hopefully) many more albums to come.
is French for ‘circular insanity’ which is usually associated with a patients condition when they have bipolar disorder. The album itself easily fits into this definition, drawing on a sound that moves in and out of multiple dynamic shifts through a number of different influences. You could almost say that Folie Circulaire
is having an identity crisis. The album contains a number of comparisons ranging from the bitter anger and harsh melodies taken from the early second wave black metal bands, its sludgy crawls and cushy atmosphere reminiscent of Neurosis and the post metal genre, and the surgical precision from early 90s death metal records. All of these sub-genres are seamlessly fused together without any forcefulness and further adding to the uniqueness that Withered have become.
From the opener of ‘To Embrace’, the listener is left with a sense of emotional desperation with the song’s slow trudge forward into what could be the best example of the melding of all the previously mentioned styles, ‘The Fated Breath’. The song blows the doors wide open with its intro that is as much death metal as it is black metal. About halfway through the song, a monster plodding riff that could have been taken from Neurosis’ Given to the Rising
, hits you square in the face and doesn’t stop the intensity of the song one bit, leading back into one monster death/ black metal riff after another. Saying that this is typically how the formula of every song runs would be doing this album an injustice as other songs like ‘Dichotomy of Exile’, ‘Purification of Ignorance’, and ‘Reveal the Essence of Suffering’ use the formula with a different approach, adding texture and little nuances throughout each song making it a bit of challenge to really understand what Withered are driving at upon first listen. One fault that needs to be noted is the mediocre vocal delivery by the bands guitarists/ vocalists Chris Freeman and Mike Thompson who use the dual style of low growls and high screech approach. Unfortunately, the vocals sound as if they were rushed and really don’t stand out too much. Thankfully this doesn’t draw the listener away from the wonderfully thought-out musical excursions.
Withered have come up with an album that should not be ignored in a year that has seen so many bands put out some amazing albums upon first listen, only to lose their zing with consecutive spins. There is certainly enough stickiness on Folie Circulaire
that will certainly challenge the listener and make him/her listen a lot more carefully to what these guys have created. The best part about Withered is that they are not a band that reaches out and grabs you upon the first listen, but rather demands your entire attention throughout. Withered concocts a wicked dose of metal that is entirely its own style while paying homage to influential bands that have played a vital role in creating what metal is all about today. Withered have left the palette open for their liking on future releases and will most certainly exceed anything that they have showcased on Folie Circulaire