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Withershin - "The Hungering Void" (CD/EP)

Withershin - "The Hungering Void" CD/EP cover image

"The Hungering Void" track listing:

1. Wherein I Exalt (6:38)
2. The Hungering Void (3:32)
3. Crossing The Threshold (5:04)

Reviewed by on July 6, 2010

"They take the base of raw and full speed black metal, but ramp it up a notch with high end production and enough melody to give the music value beyond just searing hate."

Black metal started a musical revolution of rebellion and contempt for the inane sounds of the mainstream. Since then, it’s been examined and reexamined at nearly every angle conceivable, from the blistering cold and lo-fi, old school black metal to the wind instruments and epic vocals of symphonic or folk black metal. Even though the sounds have all been done just about as many ways as they possibly can at this point, there are still bands firmly entrenched in the heart of the style that are well worth hearing. Withershin’s “The Hungering Void” is in that category, and does almost everything right in its short 15 minutes.

On the stylistic front, Withershin is best compared to the likes of Marduk or Gorgoroth. They take the base of raw and full speed black metal, but ramp it up a notch with high end production and enough melody to give the music value beyond just searing hate. There are plenty of stretches where the drums continue the standard 500 mile per hour blast beating, but the drummer has talent beyond speed and isn’t afraid to show off other types of sounds. From time to time there is an echo of Dimmu Borgir’s sense of theatrics and evil heard in the music, but Withershin doesn’t even bother with keyboards.

Because the main focus of the music is on a very familiar offering, the draw for any given song is what Withershin does with the track to make it unique. “Wherein I Exalt” starts off with two melodic guitar riffs that provide ambience instead of melt faces, which creates the vague tone of horror and despair critical to a successful black metal assault. The track ends with blades being sharpened, whispered incantations, and a disturbing sound of something wet and meaty being dissected. At almost two minutes in length, the outro to the track goes on just a bit too long, but it’s still a fun ride.

“Crossing the Threshold” uses a few rounds of acoustic guitar work and distorted bass lines to keep the atmosphere going strong until the end, and maintain the anticipation for the heavier segments. The song also gets significantly more evil with the vocals. An echoing and trailing effect is applied to the growls, giving greater emphasis on each blasphemous scream and making them pop out of the music more. The only problem with the song is that it ends far too abruptly, and just suddenly drops the listener out of metal and into silence.

“The Hungering Void” definitely whets the appetite for a new full-length from Withershin to see what could be done with a longer run time. Then again at the same time, one has to wonder if the balance of intensity and atmosphere found on these three tracks would hold up as well over a longer release. Only time will tell, but the high quality sound found on the EP speaks of potential greatness to come.

Highs: The band does standard black metal very well, and throws in quite a few unique elements to make each track worth hearing.

Lows: The outro on the first track is far too long, the disc ends too abruptly, and it doesn't exactly break new ground.

Bottom line: An EP that has a very familiar black metal sound, but it does just about everything right.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)