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Withered > The Midnight Gate > Reviews > NausikaDalazBlindaz
Withered - The Midnight Gate

Cramming too much in leaves album sounding generic - 60%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, September 20th, 2013

Interesting mainly for being the one and only recording by Icelandic black metal band Withered when the musicians were still in their teens, "The Midnight Gate" is an aggressive affair in the Emperor style of symphonic black metal. Listeners might expect that the album will be huge on energy, passion and enthusiasm, above-average on speed of delivery and technical finesse, about average in songwriting ability, and short on control and subtlety; they wouldn't be far wrong. There is plenty of power and eagerness throughout the album, and the boys' ability to play and co-ordinate their movements at near-Mach 1 speeds is impressive, but there's a lot they still have to learn about writing distinct songs with recognisable melodies and riffs. Of course I'm assuming that's what they wanted to do as opposed to writing albums as if they were soundtracks for films or stage works.

"The Midnight Gate" runs at just under 35 minutes so it's possible for listeners to hear it in one go as one over-arching work of seven movements. The lyrics appear highly personal and revolve around darkness, being alone and the experience of despair and melancholy without being depressive. Once out of the starting gates with soft and brief acoustic guitar melody, the music runs away and keeps on running, barely stopping for breath. The band's style combines a hard-hitting mix of some black metal elements such as tremolo guitars, rasping vocals and a touch of synthesiser ambience here and there on the one hand, some thrash and more melodically inclined hard rock / metal. The guitar sound is rough enough for a slightly raw edge. The production is clean and gives the band's sound a metallic sharpness.

It's understandable that Withered want to show what they're made of on their debut album and perhaps they err in trying to cram too much into 34 minutes and a bit. In their eagerness to impress, they end up as very much a generic BM band straddling the mainstream and the alternative mainstream when perhaps they should strive for something more individual that draws on their Icelandic musical heritage. Had the band continued to the present, there's reason to suppose that Withered would have eventually realised that that would have been the way forward. We'll never know though since they are no more and that's the pity.