Artist: Ovid’s Withering
Album: Scryers of the Ibis
Have you ever had a dream that felt so real you felt more at home asleep in your fantasy world than awake in the realm of the “real”? A dream with scents so fragrant and greenery so lush and vivid that rather than obfuscate the line between consciousness and unconsciousness, it completely erased it? If you haven’t, then allow Ovid’s Withering to demonstrate—and if you have, then welcome home. An epic hour-plus experience that defies conventional genre classification, this Floridian five piece present: Scryers of the Ibis, a riff-driven, brutalizingly heavy and sensationally symphonic excursion j to the most fantastic realms deathcore has to offer. Equal parts mesmerizingly melodic, tremendously technical and relentlessly heavy, Scryers of the Ibis tells a story as captivating as the intense instrumentation that frames it, making it a unique and unmatched offering as relevant as it was at its release as it is now.
Think back to the last novel you were engrossed in. What was it that first captivated you about it? If you’re like me, it was the setting—for a story’s plot and characters can only expand as far as their environment allows. Whether it be Tolkien’s Middle Earth or Martin’s Westeros, the most immersive fantasies often have incredible, sprawling settings that suck the reader in before they’re even aware. Scryers of the Ibis is the same, as even before the album’s incredible story unfolds, Ovid’s Withering use mammoth musicianship and epic song structure to reel the listener in like a paralyzed fish—without giving them any chance to resist. It begins with the frantic, curious work of percussionist Dustin Rogers, who begins “Earthshaker I” with a tantalizing blend of grinding blast beats and off-kilter kick patterns—a trend that reiterates itself numerous times throughout Scryers of the Ibis‘ immense runtime. However, Rogers is no one trick pony; “Oedipus Complex” sees him experimenting with jazzy, subtle percussion during the song’s more mellow moments, just as portions of “Acheron” witness Rogers favoring a more straightforward metallic approach.
Rogers’ percussion is a strong firmament for the raunchy bass work of Matt Suits and the unstoppable fretwork of the dynamic duo Aaron Rodriguez and Matt Gonzalez. Suits’ subtle bass grooves are among the best of those the genre (whatever genre it is) has to offer, with bouncy bits aplenty on “Murder to Dissect,” and low, lumbering heftiness that adds thickness and meat to the otherwise ethereal portions of “Acheron.” Rodriguez and Gonzalez, however, are simply on a whole different planet of technical mastery. When it comes to skin-shredding riffs, the two have them in aces; as the razor-sharp shredding in “Exile” so brilliantly displays. That doesn’t mean, however, that the listener should write them off when it comes to moments of jaw-dropping melody or ultra-heavy chugtastrophes. “Murder to Dissect,” in spite of the name, is home to a serene and shiver-inducing conclusion. Likewise, the salvo of chugs that defines the climax in “Winter in Tomis” is aural annihilation, making the listener feel like they’ve been tossed into a wood chipper.
Ah, the scenery is picturesque and perfectly done—the players are set, but what exactly do they do? Leave that to the creative direction and comprehensive vocals of frontman JJ Polachek. Without giving away the brilliant tale told by Scryers of the Ibis, let it be said that Ovid’s Withering as story crafters that would give literary giants like those mentioned above a run for their money—all while Polachek provides a bar-none beautiful vocal performance. His grisly shouts throughout “Exile” give way to eerie, black metallic gurgles and shrill screams that split the listener’s eardrum. From the very beginning of “Earthshaker I,” Polachek is a juggernaut, punishing the listener with vocal brilliance. Even his Quasimodo-esque speaking in “Winter in Tomis” is evil and entertaining, convincing to the core. Polachek—backed by the entirety of Ovid’s Withering—pulls out every stop imaginable to dunk the listener in an incredible world of fantasy and lore, holding their head under and forcing it down their throat until their arms cease to flail and their legs quit kicking.
The aspects that make Scryers of the Ibis an incredible experience are as long as The Hobbit and as diverse as Polachek’s vocal range (which just so happens to be an aspect in itself). Not only do Ovid’s Withering refuse to be pigeonholed into one style of music, they refuse to let the listener succumb to boredom. With a hefty 73-minute long runtime, not once does Scryers of the Ibis surrender to monotony. The listener can feel the ground quake beneath them during the crushing climax of “Earthshaker II” just as readily as they feel the frost on their face during the twinkling, frigid epilogue of “Winter in Tomis.” Amid the cornucopia of crushing chugs, heart-felt harmonies and terrifyingly technical maelstroms Ovid’s Withering throw at the listener, not once do they repeat themselves or feel like they are operating at anything less than their fullest potential, keeping the listener hooked from beginning to end.
Of all the ways Scryers of the Ibis feels like a dream to fans of heavy music, it’s impossible to pick just one that defines the experience. Rather, Ovid’s Withering have composed a symphonic masterpiece of murderous heaviness and tongue-twisting lyricism; of tremendous technicality and ethereal beauty. Of all things heavy, Ovid’s Withering have crowned themselves king.
For Fans Of: Lorelei, Slice the Cake, Nemertines, Nexilva, Micawber.
By: Connor Welsh