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The point of cool - 79%

Andromeda_Unchained, November 3rd, 2013

So it would seem that Illusion Suite and upstarts Withem have formed some sort of pact with a greater power to bring forth a brand of delightful, streamlined progressive metal for all to hear. Either that or The Iron Cemetery was actually a double album and Withem pilfered disc two for their own nefarious plans. Or maybe, just maybe, both bands are on a similar wavelength as to how the compact, melodic, progressive metal genre should sound à la twenty-thirteen, and luckily for us, the fans, we get to reap all of the bountiful benefits.

Blending the finest delights you’ve heard sported over the years via Pagan’s Mind, Seventh Wonder, Circus Maximus, and of course the aforementioned Illusion Suite; Withem envelops their influence and strains it to its purest, concise form. Helming their sound is Ole Aleksander Wagenius, whose glorious vocals ensure The Point Of You is a release to write home about. Coming off as what I can best describe as the result of Tommy Karevik and Michael Eriksen doing a Dragonball Z style fusion dance, his vocals are excellent, oozing with style, range, and control.

I’m sure those clued up on the style will likely have a solid idea on how Withem sound from name-dropping alone (and as such should be doing everything in their power to get their grubby mitts on this bad-lad). For the uninitiated though; expect pristine vocals, a challenging rhythm section with a prominent bass presence, and ever-shifting drum patterns. Expect riffs which will both dazzle the mind and beg the head to bang; lead guitars which reach out to the soul, yet burn to the touch; and let’s not forget keyboards which weave throughout the music, blending sounds as diverse as eighties arena metal and playful, carnival style ditties. Most of all though, expect some seriously strong, well written music.

As I stressed in opening, from a stylistic point of view, The Point Of You (see what I did there?) sounds closest to the latest Illusion Suite album. This is tightly packaged and accessible, yet still retains a progressive timbre structurally – certainly showing Thought Chamber or Haken a thing or two. Less is more has never rang out more true, and whilst acts like Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind, and Circus Maximus (specifically on IIsolate) have done the lion’s share of legwork in streamlining the genre, I’d say releases like this or The Iron Cemetery are likely the finest albums to show a newcomer to the genre. Everything good about the melodic, power-infused side of the progressive genre can be heard here, and in perfectly digestible form.

There isn’t all that much to criticize here, I guess if I had to really nitpick I’d say the band were riding on the back of their forefathers, and whilst they might have jumped in front of the queue here, their sound isn’t all that original. As a debut release from a bunch of guys who love their genre though, I can’t really complain and wouldn’t expect much more from Withem. Next time around I’d like to see the band mix things up a bit, but for now they’ve certainly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Along with contemporaries Oceans Of Time and Illusion Suite, I’d say the next wave of Scandinavian prog/power is primed, and ready to take on all-comers. Recommended!

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