Withdrawn/Demented - Things Change Others Remain

Two reasonably well established French death metal acts both with two albums under wraps with their last releases both from 2012 sees both these acts treading  similar path overall within traditional death metal. I have always enjoyed buying split albums and have many in my collection plus the collaboration gives both bands, an opportunity to showcase new material.

Kicking off this split I've gone for the Demented songs first whose initial guitar tone is a lavish dense gorging sound that harks back to a time from about two decades ago or so as "Mystical Experience" possesses a good drum sound as well but I would say the overall lack of force and drive in the song writing is the main criticism to be had which isn't to say its poor just a little too generic and very safe though the quirky little guitar breaks and runs add better dynamics. A gentle fade in for 'Clearminded' and a slight modernised approach to the guitar hook is obvious with a progressive stance at times the tune ducks and dives like a lot of the second wave of death metal bands did in the mid 90s leaving only 'The Way' to close their trio of songs here. An epic of sorts due to its length the tune opens with some old school blasting and Cannibal Corpsesque guitar inflections, before the breaking riff increases the speed. The double kick blast bulldozes the song into life with considerable muscle and in places this tune has similarities to Mors Principium Est and even Revocation in places such is the guitar work being played and I would urge the band to continue with this style than the two starting tunes, as it is much more ambitious and fresh sounding.

Withdrawn's death metal is similar in that it is old school but the songs for this act are shorter and more aggressive and come closer to the more brutal end of death metal with copious blasting the moment 'Slaves Grinding Machine' gets things going. The guitar sound is harsher and the vocals as grisly as they come as the tune ramps up the speed with intermittent blasting turbo charging each tune. The obvious Morbid Angel like guitar work is played well and does a good service to said US pioneers but it's a fine line between homage and duplication and whilst the riffs aren't clones you'll sit there thinking that this is very familiar due to the styling. However my biggest grating point is the continuous guitar like feedback that sits over the opening tune constantly, it is resolutely annoying. Into 'Plague Stricken Years' and the band drops the speed off a cliff like a boulder, careering frenziedly very like Immolation but without the guitar finesse of that band as yet again the lingering guitar groan comes back to haunt the listener to such an extent it is hard to ignore it and destroys the song. Closing with 'Relentless Fear Hammer' the tune opens much slower, doomy almost before the riff change signals the blast. The manic blasting has a touch of Nile about it and even adopts tech fretboard acrobatics for variety. Thankfully that lingering guitar tone is dropped for the closer but you can still here tenets of it at times.

Quite whether this is worthy of investigation depends on your penchant for obscure death metal bands which I am. If you fit this description and want some more French death metal in your collection then spending a little time checking this out is worth it but otherwise it will be confined to the annals of obscurity.

3/5 Demented
2/5 Withdrawn

  1. Slaves Grinding Machine
  2. Plague Stricken Years
  3. Relentless Fear Hammer
  4. Mystical Experience
  5. Clearminded
  6. The Way