Descend – Wither (Inverse Records)

Sunday, 9th February 2014
Rating: 7/10

Progressive death metal as a subgenre has been one that has been continuously expanding over the years to the point where it’s not entirely possible to figure out a band’s sound with that label anymore.  Descend falls into the category of progressive in the more traditional sense, keeping more in line with bands like Opeth than say, Fallujah.

Descend’s sophomore effort, Wither, features tracks whose length generally falls over the six-minute mark (with two exceptions, one of which is an acoustic instrumental piece).  They incorporate a number of acoustic elements and melodic leads, but mostly stick to growled vocals, though there are a few cleans in “In Hours of Despair” that work out quite nicely.  Many of the melodies, such as those found towards the tail end of “Diabolic” and the opening moments of “Confined By Evil” are rather captivating.  The band isn’t afraid to flex some death metal muscle though, as evidenced by some of the riffing and pounding drums in “The Rancorous Paradigm” and “Severance.”

While there are a number of standout moments, like those mentioned above, the one thing holding Descend back is the length of the songs themselves.  Despite some intriguing melodies, a number of the songs do not simply have enough going on to justify their length (12-minute closing track “Sundown” being the easiest choice here).  At times it feels unnecessarily drawn out, with an okay six-minute song feeling like it could have been a standout four-five minute track.  While it isn’t a major distraction, it does leave room for improvement on their inevitable third release.

With their lush acoustics and potential for melodies, many will be able to look past the occasional lull in the lengthier tracks.  But with some tweaks in composition, Descend has the potential to be a real up-and-comer in the progressive death metal spectrum.

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