Grief Relic

Be like Mike

dB Rating: 8/10

Release Date: May 27th, 2016
Label: Season of Mist

As far as personnel goes, there’s only one through-line in the history of Withered: guitarist-vocalist Mike Thompson. He’s the only musician who appears on both Withered’s 2005 debut, Memento Mori, and the quartet’s fourth and latest effort, Grief Relic. Despite all of the lineup changes over the years, Thompson has managed to put together a new album, six years in the making, that both honors Memento’s stuttering death-doom sound and subtly expands it. Some of the latter progressiveness can be attributed to the presence of bassist Colin Marston, moonlighting from his day jobs with Gorguts, Krallice, Behold… The Arctopus, and Dysrhythmia. You can hear his fancy fretwork all over Grief Relic, sometimes mixed as loud as Withered’s two guitarists. Just check out “Realm of Suffering,” a half-death, half-doom tune that—in its rhythmic schizophrenia—is quintessentially Withered, and also happens to evoke the otherworldly death metal of Gorguts. At least one of these tunes sounds like a Colored Sands outtake (“Downward”). But Thompson is hardly a Luc Lemay clone. Grief Relic displays plenty of  the slow Southern swagger that landed Memento on Decibel’s Top 40 back in 2005 (“Withdraw”). That they’ve traded Mastodon-esque hooks for proggy riffs just goes to show that these guys are willing and able to evolve. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another six years for Withered to reach the next stage.

—Brent Burton
This review taken from the June 2016 issue