Lord Almighty – Wither Review

Lord Almighty, that’s some pretty artwork. An animal skull, painted with myriad pastel colors, conveys that sense of decay which defines so much of the metal art world. Meanwhile, a rich palette of greens and blues strengthens the impression that this skeletal creature’s surroundings teem with life. Plus, emblazoned atop the stripped-down scenery oversees this Lord’s unholy crest, gnarled and subtly overgrown while simultaneously resembling a fortress, the moon presiding over its kingdom. Needless to say, I was thrumming with excitement to get my hands all over this. Imagine my glee when the Bostonians’ sophomore record Wither—an apt name to go with the cover—didn’t totally suck.

In reality, Wither fucking rules. It reminds me very much of Wormwitch’s and Rimfrost’s last records in that each feels vital, vitriolic, and fresh as a newly picked tomato from the gardens of Hell itself. Riffs upon riffs upon riffs upon riffs layer over each other in magnificent synchronicity, unpredictable in their arrivals but always working in conjunction with what came before and what follows (thanks to the immensely talented guitarists Keenan Carroll, “Goose” Willgoose, and bassist Phill Gelinas). Providing supple support, drummer Christopher Narainen wails upon his kit with unhinged abandon, deploying blasts and D-beat, and whatever infernal combination he can concoct therein in a blitzkrieg of percussive bombardment. Surprisingly, Rifflord Carroll provides a restrained performance as vocalist for the band, but that only serves to highlight the important shit like riffs and shit. Don’t worry, these blackened croaks and scratches bear every blood-tipped tooth and claw one requires, but it’s clear their purpose is never to steal the spotlight.

If you still feel uncertain what to expect here, smash that heckin’ sideways triangle, bitches, and revel in the fire of Mother Nature’s black metal with album opener “Cry of the Earth.” You’ll soon realize that this band writes riffs like each one is the last one they live to write. But that’s not even the best part. Reach past the first cut, and the experience shifts towards one of pleasant surprise—despite hearing these elements utilized a million times before, I’ve never encountered a black metal album that sounded like this one. “Rise” sets you up for something soft and gentle, but then throws you into a pit of gangrenous metal spikes and you think, “Ah, I see what happened here.” But, suddenly, the song starts screaming punk into your ear. Of course, being the confused, entertained, thoroughly impaled individual who resides in this now-bloody pit, I never anticipated the doom-tinged ending this particular track lays down over me to erase the light from my world forever. As if to underline the fact that Wither can’t have too many cool moments, mid-album number “Despite” ends in a fantabulous way by unleashing a big trad-metal solo and slowly increasing in tempo before becoming a wraith of shadowy wengeance. Closer “Hooded Three,” however, steals the show as my first ever instance of what I coin the “false interlude.” A big fat “fuck you” to eye-rolling metalheads everywhere, Lord Almighty saw fit to record three minutes of melodic lead work with no trace of vocal accompaniment, only to inexplicably combust in a righteous whirlwind of first-wave mega riffs and heavy metal solos galore, replete with rasps out the wazoo.

I retain several hundred more words about shit this band does that’s fun and unfair. However, that exceeds the word count limit for reviews, so now I have to talk about shit I don’t like, such as the production. It should be better. All of the instruments sound great in tone and overall audibility, but the layering and compression are so dense that they flatten everything the same way a photograph flattens the drama of a gorgeous hypercar. Leave us space to walk around the thing and drool over all of its hard points and sculpted character lines, damn you! Another thing I dislike about Wither is “Stifled.” It does nothing, means nothing, and adds nothing. Finally, every once in a while, such as on “Mercy,” it seems that Lord Almighty cut songs just a little too short when they have nowhere left to go. It’s better than the common alternative—writing a twelve-minute epic about something stupid that isn’t worth two minutes and stuffing it with meh—but still.

Great. Now I’m an overwriting bastard. Are you happy, Lord Almighty? You gave me too much to talk about, and now I’ll be fired for the umpteenth time by at least four of the higher-ups in this joint. I hope you’re proud of yourselves. I mean it.1

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: lordalmighty.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/lordalmightymetal
Releases Worldwide: October 16th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. You’re fired. FIRST! – Steel
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