Album: Withering – EP
Decrepit. Reduced to a hardly living, barely breathing stain of your former self; you cling to life like a drowning man clinging to a lifesaver, grasping at your only chances of salvation. You once stood tall and strong, with a solid spine held erect by lush, life-filled muscles. Now you are rendered invertebrate, and fleshy, tattered strips of waste are all that’s left of your one-massive musculature. Only one thing could have turned you into a hollow, horrid shell in such a short time: the debut self-titled EP by Canadian crushers, Withering. Formerly A Hitman’s Business, Withering are a force to be reckoned with, combining quick, tight deathcore with heavy-handed hardcore and beatdown elements, their breakout release is one of the most abrasive, aggressive combinations of heavy music to grace the scene since Falsifier’s self-titled or Rex’s Possession–making it a release that will slither into your head like a serpent and reduce you to rubbish like the toxic, violent infection it is.
Withering find themselves walking a tedious line when it comes to the band’s instrumental dynamic. At times, the Québécois quintet align themselves with slamming, skin-pulverizing deathcore a la Chamber of Malice, as drummer Nil Vallières toggles from machine gun blast beats and lightning quick footwork to hefty, meaty patterns and crushing breakdowns on “Blood Eagle.” Guitarists Vincent Monfette and Michael Mongeau follow suit, beginning the track with a fancy, contagiously catchy groove that quickly drops into filth-laden, furiously heavy chugs that snap the listener’s spine like a twig. Withering easily bounce back and forth between tediously technical riffs–where Mongeau and Monfette lead the charge into the listener’s head–and lurid, bouncy breakdowns: where Vallières reigns as king, aided by the groovy, gut-wrenching grooves from bassist Yanic Bérubé. However, where “Blood Eagle” is a fairly black-and-white example of the band’s heavy-to-heavier dynamic, tracks like “I Killed Baudelaire” throw the listener for a loop. “I Killed Baudelaire” is a grimy, gut-emulsifying lesson in hyper-heavy beatdown deathcore. Opening with a dissonant, dirge-like riff that is simply dripping with doom-metal influence, the track barely speeds up throughout its duration, leaving Vallières to throw in off-kilter fills between Monfette and Mongeau’s murderously heavy chugs. This track is far and away Withering at their most instrumentally immense moment, with every chug, pluck and smack hitting the listener square in the temple like a sock full of rocks, breaking their skull open without effort.
Where Withering’s instrumentation ranges from infectiously catchy to incredibly immense, their vocal element is simply disastrous, infecting the listener’s brain like a neurotoxin and reducing their grey matter to waste. Vocalist Jasmin Bélisle is the ideal compliment to the crushing instrumentation and incredibly aggressive atmosphere the rest of Withering bring to the table. From the first cynical syllables of the introductory track, “-W-,” Bélisle is a constant source of anger, bitterness and hatred. While “Blood Eagle” and “I Killed Baudelaire” see Bélisle barking with directionless anger and general disgust, he truly shines on “K-Word Yourself” and “COD4CUNT,” where his anger is funneled into lurid, hyper-aggressive lyrics directed at a particular person or concept. Here, his lyrics mirror his vocals; low, gruff and grimy, preaching about violence and revenge as his tones descend further and further into pools of aural disease, sounding as if they’re pouring from the mouth of Satan himself.
Withering will infect the mind of even the most voracious fans of heavy music and leave them rotting on the sidewalk. Bélisle’s rampant bitterness plunges into the listener’s bloodstream, riding on a vector of punishing, contagiously catchy musicianship created by Mongeau and Monfette’s marvelous grooves and Vallières’ vicious drumming combined with Bérubé’s beefy bass grooves. If the opening groove to “Blood Eagle” doesn’t make you want to get up and start dancing, then the crushing climax to “K-Word Yourself” definitely will. And if you still haven’t felt compelled to start a mosh pit right where you stand by the time “I Killed Baudelaire” reaches a head, then you ought to get your hearing checked, because combinations of catchy hardcore, bare-knuckle beatdown and devastating deathcore simply done the way Withering do them don’t come around very often. Produced by Maxime Lacroix at House of Gain studios, not only is this release the product of perfect songwriting, but it is the result of top-notch production as well. Withering’s debut EP is all the destructive force of centuries of rot and weathering condensed into an under 20-minute experience that will leave no listener unscathed.
Grotesquely heavy and contagiously catchy–what more is there to say about Withering that won’t have fans of heavy music clambering to get their hands on it? All the evil of A Hitman’s Business repurposed and refined into a heavier, meatier and more malicious package, Withering’s self-titled release is one disease you’ll be dying to catch.
For Fans Of: Blind Witness, Falsifier, Rex, Traitors, Drag the Lake
By: Connor Welsh