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Withem - 'The Unforgiving Road' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 21, 2016    
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The switch to Frontiers should see Withem reach the larger audience they deserve.

Unleashing their second album, their first for Frontiers, the press release that accompanies Norwegian Progressive Metallers Withem's latest opus describes them as being influenced by Symphony X, Pagan's Mind, Dream Theater and Circus Maximus, and whilst I would say they're far less heavy and Neo-Classically orientated than Michael Romeo's troupe, the others pretty much hit the nail on the head. Featuring guitarist Oyvind Voldmo Larsen, bassist Miguel Pereira, drummer Frank Nordeng Roe and melodic singer Ole Aleksander Wagenius, the band seem to have lost keyboard player Ketil Ronold since their 2013 debut, but with no replacement being mentioned (or included in the promo pics), rest assured that wonderful piano and synth textures are still a very major part of Withem's infectious sound.

Unlike a lot of bands in the genre, Withem have only been together since 2011 and have matured rapidly up to this point. Like fellow Norwegians PM and CM, they have that distinct Norwegian flavour that can't be disguised and also walk the line between Progressive and Power Metal, attaching everything they do to a strong sense of melody. They frequently lighten-up mid-song, with 'Exit' going from a Hard Rocking verse to a piano-led chorus before throwing in a Neo-Classical guitar solo here or a furious drum beat there to balance light and shade.

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Featured video song 'The Pain I Collected' is a mix of straight Metal and intricate, stabbing guitar parts, the peculiarly-named 'Arrhythmia' is short, sharp and melodic and 'The Eye In The Sky' has a soaring chorus that many a Melodic Rock band would have been proud of. Sometimes they almost drop the busy instrumentation and heavy guitar altogether, letting you concentrate on Wagenius' rich vocals as on the multi-hued 'Riven', the varied 'C'est La Vie' and the saccharine melodies of 'In My Will', despite its sinister last line.

'In The Hands Of A God' is also very melodic and has a stunning solo from Larsen, who frequently shares the limelight with the unnamed keyboard player. The band use all their many tricks on 'Unaffected Love', a song with so many different vocal parts that it's hard to tell if it's a verse, chorus, bridge, or all at once.

The switch to Frontiers should see Withem reach the larger audience they deserve, and with the depth and variety of 'The Unforgiving Road', they've certainly kept their end of the bargain.

Phil Ashcroft

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