Withered was formed a few years ago in Georgia by Chris Freeman and Mike Thompson - two members of the crust/grind band Social Infestation. The group has recorded a few demos which caught the ear of the people at Lifeforce Records. This is their debut full-length on the aforementioned label.
To me it seems like Mike and Chris started Withered to pay homage to European (particularly Swedish) death metal as they've got that classic raw and dirty Swedish production. They do play brutal death metal - but they incorporate elements of black metal, doom, grindcore and noise in order to keep things fresh and interesting - and since this album maintains my interest even though old-school death and doom isn't really my forte, I would dare say they've succeeded.
Their music has throw-backs from brutal death metal groups like Cannibal Corpse, Dissection and Unleashed, Swedish death such as Entombed, Dismember, Grave as well as Autopsy, Terroriser and Napalm Death. They incorporate everything from crushingly slow doom passages, to dark multi-layered guitar melodies, blast beats and noisy chaotic riffs.
The production is such that there isn't a main focal point of the music - but so that the dual-vocal attack of Chris and Mike melds with the layered guitars, pounding drums and rumbling bass - although I do feel beefing up the guitars a little in the mix would have helped the aggression of the album. At times the guitars are a little too indistinct and cluttered beneath the droning chug of the bass and drums.
To give you an idea of the clashing styles utilised you need look no further than tracks three and four - "Like Locusts" and "Silent Grave" respectively. "Like Locusts" starts off with a slow doom dual-guitar harmony intro which lasts for three minutes, then kicks off into a slow crushing gallop until breaking down into another chugging layered passage - very reminiscent of early-era Entombed - and ending around the nine minute mark.
"Silent Grave" conversely wastes no time dicking-around. You're hit right away with a raw, noisy grind riff straight into an up-tempo beat. Throaty distorted screams, an odd blast beat, a quiet passage and a crusty blasting outro screams out Terrorizer and Napalm Death. You're pummelled with two minutes of bass-heavy, noise-influenced grind. There are even a few hints at the sludgy sound of Mastodon (which can be accounted for by their geography).
All in all this is a very well constructed album with a wide range of stylistic influences to liven up (what I at least consider) a fairly boring, monotonous genre. Sure to be embraced by old-era death metal fans who like some doom with their death.