Wythersake
Antiquity


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
June 2nd, 2021 | 27 replies


Release Date: 03/26/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hell's symphony.

Hailing from Washington D.C., Wythersake - a blackened symphonic death metal quartet - has finally released its full-length debut Antiquity. After forming in 2016, the group took its time experimenting with various styles and textures, resulting in five different singles between 2018 and 2020 with nary a physical release. Their patience has rewarded listeners handsomely though, as Antiquity feels less like the uncertain steps of a young band and more like a deliberate, calculated decision made by seasoned veterans. In blending the ferocity of metal's most extreme acts with sweeping melody and elegant piano - not to mention occasional mind-bending experimentation - Antiquity offers us a swirling metallic concoction that is every bit as irresistable as it is nightmarish.

Wythersake waste little time establishing a bleak and oppressive atmosphere here, as the interlude 'Prediluvian' bursts open the gates of hell with an early dose of Gabriel Luis' death metal growls. His versatility as a singer is also immediately on display, as he subtly shifts from guttural screams to more of a deep, booming, and authoritative singing. Antiquity makes a seamless transition from this introductory moment right into the meat of the record, commencing with the title track's barrage of percussion. At first it overwhelms us like a tidal wave - all drumming maniacal, unvaried, and machinegun-like - before a glisteningly clean thrash solo cuts a slit in the ceiling, allowing light to pour straight into a once jet black room. It's at this time that Wythersake also demonstrate their ability to organically grow and evolve moments within themselves, as the drumming takes on a more emphatic and purposeful role during the track's semi-melodic verses. Wythersake's constantly shifting dynamics aren't tied to any single moment, though, as 'The Advent' demonstrates with its dive into highly symphonic black metal, or in the way that the classical pianos really sparkle across the midsection of an otherwise befouled 'From a Serpent Spoken'. It's made clear from start to finish that Antiquity is always in search of the next little wrinkle in its sound, grasping for some little thing to stand out and drive its hook straight into your ear.

As the record pummels onward with unflinching cruelty and subtle beauty, it avoids many of the pitfalls that ensnare many novel metal acts. First of all, there aren't any cheesy choruses on Antiquity because the band always seems to be busy rounding a new corner. It's not the omission itself that is impressive, it's that Wythersake still manage to craft something stunning and highly engaging without relying on melodic repetition. Even when they come close to doing that - as we witness near the conclusion of 'Iniquity' - these moments reveal themselves as melodic surges more than designed refrains. Another aspect that contributes to their versatility and apparent knack for endless reformation is their guitar talent, which is never more evident than it is on 'Through Ritual We Manifest' - an 80s-era thrash song at heart where the solos soar to epic heights. Even a band with as much promise as Wythersake isn't totally immune to laying things on a bit too thick at times, and we find that out with the cliched, chapel hall choir ahh ahh's that saturate a good bit of 'Through Ritual We Manifest' and sometimes even distract from the instrumental mastery on display. On a braoder scale, they could also stand to stray from the barrage-style of drumming more often than they do, as it causes sections of the album to blur together when they wouldn't have to. All things taken as a whole, though, missteps such as these are certainly neglibile by comparison - and by the time we reach Antiquity's final phase, Wythersake prove they're up to the task of leaving you with an outstanding final impression.

After the mysterious exhale that is 'Lamentations', 'Feast Upon the Seraph Within' marks a return to thrashing riffs and black metal until the final minute shifts gears with an extensive keyboard outro which concludes with a brutal, terrifying cry. The penultimate 'Unto Light' is a tightly wound ball of energy that slowly unravels, from its bleak beginning until the moment when the drumming breaks down into something slower and more rhythmic as Luis indulges in one more rare moment of clean, tuneful singing that is somehow still majestic sounding; it's always as if he's singing the declarations of a king to his people, a God to his followers, or a demon to his tortured souls. All of that energy culminates in the towering curtain call, 'My Profane Goddess', which acts as a cumulative finale of sorts by wrapping all of Antiquity's strengths into a roughly eight minute window. The best moments come when Wythersake reveal that they still have some tricks up there sleeves though: the multiple breathtaking pauses for ambient piano, the spoken word sections delivered so rhythmically that you'd think Gabriel Luis is reciting a ritualistic incantation, the beautifully operatic way he sings into the final seconds of the album - these are the things that elevate Antiquity to levels seldom heard. It's an exhilerating and unpredictable ride, and one that's liable to leave you in a stunned, dizzied state by the time it's all over and the dust has finally settled.

Themes of religion and existence course throughout the veins of Antiquity, and the album - instrumentally, atmospherically, and creatively - rises to the challenge of illustrating such profound concepts. Images of navigating Hell's fiery rivers are conjured regularly, and even promoted by the album's artwork. Don't mistake this for a run-of-the-mill symphonic metal album - the depth, variety, technical skill, songwriting complexity, and overall ambition here are in another league. This is one mammoth debut for Wythersake, and they've established themselves as an immediate force to be reckoned with. Close your eyes, click play, and feel the flames start to singe your soul.



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user ratings (7)
3
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2021


14307 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

Oh hello there. First.



edit: Wythersake's press team is going to love this review.

Digging: Diskord - Degenerations

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2021


24533 Comments


"Hailing from Washington D.C., Wythersake - a blackened symphonic death metal quartet "

"Review by SowingSeason STAFF"

I had to wake up, wash my face, slap myself a couple of times and re-read this three or four times to be sure Sowing was reviewing blackened dm.



Digging: Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2021


14307 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

Sorry metacritic, Sowing is one of us now. There's no going back from here, Alice has officially fallen down the rabbit hole.



Seriously though, this is a bit of a wake up to everyone that we should trying new/different/out of the comfort zones/ things because we might end up liking something musically different to what we're used to.



Back to the review though: "First of all, there aren't "choruses"..."



I'm not sure I'd be looking for choruses in the traditional sense on something like this. Sure, recurring ideas and overreaching themes would be a given, but I wouldn't expect to hear the same carbon copy lines 4-5 times per track. Is this something that could be put down to your unfamiliarity with the niche genre? I'd also query just how choruses [generalized] would be a natural pitfall for novel metal acts.



That aside, really good stuff Sowing. I don't mind at all seeing your love of the extreme metals on the front page.

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 2nd 2021


38102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I wouldn't put too much stock in my genre labels or descriptions. I'm definitely unfamiliar but did my best. Regarding the choruses, I viewed their absence as something of an artistic strength and a boon for a young band to be able to create something engaging and memorable without them. Again, I'm basing a lot of this off of a very limited scope of knowledge/experience, and I know that catchy choruses are not normally observed in these sorts of genres. Bottom line: excuse any errant statements but please feel free to continue pointing them out so that I can form a sense of expectation for future listens in the same genre(s)!



Edit: Also, this was sort of a long time coming. I've been creeping into metal slowly, and I've actually been listening to this since its release day back in March. I wanted to review it back then, but I wasn't confident at all writing about metal. I'm still not, but having ample time at least allowed me to flesh out my descriptions of the songs.

Digging: Bruno Pernadas - Private Reasons

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2021


14307 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

--Bottom line: excuse any errant statements but please feel free to continue pointing them out so that I can form a sense of expectation for future listens in the same genre(s)!--



Yeah I'm not narking, just found something I wanted to expand on/make a conversation on. I think we both know I wouldn't be taking shots at something like this, which would be especially petty considering both your writing proficiency and prolific status while reviewing here.



I might re-frame the point that [sic] all choruses are bad/pitfalls in "metal" to something more specific to the black/sympho metal you're tackling. Which would make that motion sweep a little less? As far as my pointing goes that's about as far as I've got without hearing the music itself. : ]



edit to your edit: I think I've seen you dip your toes (or whole leg based on your lists and some of the comments on some of the guy's reviews) this year. Confidence is a big thing and it takes balls to jump into something unfamiliar/unknown. That alone deserves credit. I'm not sure how you process your feelings about new metal, but I'm only a forum/google doc/email away if you need to bounce some ideas around.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2021


24533 Comments


Just to be clear Sow, it fills me with happiness seeing you reviewing stuff like this.

That's what i meant.

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 2nd 2021


38102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

All your points are met with nothing but an open mind - I don't care how many reviews I have here, I'm still a rookie in this genre. :-) I definitely appreciate all the feedback and will slowly start to amass any CC for future writing (spoiler: I'm also working on something for the new The Flight of Sleipnir).

Also, I'm glad I gave you a reason to do a double take (in a good/excited way) Dewi. Honestly, I was tempted to 4.5 this but I felt like I better temper my ratings until I've listened to more metal. The Sowing hype train is in a weather delay for its metal destination, but we do expect it to arrive safely at some point. ;-)

Dmax28
June 2nd 2021


881 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a great album. Glad it got a review. Iniquity is a hell of a track

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2021


16217 Comments


Nice to see you reviewing the almighty genre. Will take a peek at this in the next couple of days.

Digging: Helloween - Helloween

Project
June 2nd 2021


4875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"blackened symphonic death metal"



"Sowing 4.0"



oh I'm gonna love this aren't I. lovely review Sowing, even if it reads like the 4.5 where the hype train will eventually arrive

Digging: Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 2nd 2021


38102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this is a 4.5 for me with 5 potential honestly, just trying to rein myself in a bit since I'm new to the genre and don't really know what I'm missing yet.

Edit: Fuck it, it's a 4.5 isn't it.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2021


16217 Comments


Reported

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 2nd 2021


38102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have reviewed the reported comment and decided it's ok ;-)

Excited for you, Nocte, and whoever else is considered a metal veteran around here to let me know what you think of this album. I'm quite enamored with it, which is either a sign of my naivety with regards to metal or a sign that it's so impressive it managed to intrigue and impress a non-metal inclined music writer.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2021


16217 Comments


;)

I'm looking forward to listening to it. Since you're relatively new to the genre you have the advantage of listening to everything with relatively fresh and unbiased ears. Whenever I explore a new genre/subgenre the first findings are always the strongest.

Project
June 2nd 2021


4875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Whenever I explore a new genre/subgenre the first findings are always the strongest."



I only dabble in some subgenres of metal but I can confirm that sentence, considering when I read this review I thought "ooh, sounds like Xanthochroid," the first band I ever listened to that fit these genre tags



I'm digging this so far. Kudos to the songwriting — the thrashy solos and more melodic moments are perfectly placed and the symphonic moments don't feel gimmicky

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 2nd 2021


38102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed Project. This had the potential to be a very bad album but instead they pulled it off in a really awesome and magnificent way. This is right up there with dvne for my MAOTY.

TheSpirit
June 3rd 2021


27896 Comments


definitely didn't have sowing reviewing death metal on my 2021 bingo sheet

Digging: Dodsrit - Mortal Coil

WatchItExplode
June 4th 2021


8907 Comments


Imma put Sowing reviews cyber grind on my 2022 bingo card.

Digging: Islands - Islomania

Evok
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2021


8423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Wicked review Sowing. I think you don't need to be hesitant about writing on metal. You do more than a fine of job of it!



I can't imagine this being up there with Dvne's newest, but if it is I wouldn't be upset about it.



edit*, not detracting from any praise about this album, but this thing rubs me in all the wrong ways. :/

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins on Io

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 4th 2021


38102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They're very different styles, I just mean in terms of how much I like them. I love how consistently great the guitar work is here, and the strong melodic presence doesn't diminish the intensity at all. My Profane Goddess is an amazing closer, too. As a whole it toes the line between cheesy and not cheesy (especially with those symphonic elements) but manages to shine in my estimation. Everything is done with just the right amount of moderation (for me), but I could see how it wouldn't be for everyone.

I appreciate what you said about the review and will probably write about more metal in the future (not exclusively though).



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