Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Within The Fall - Through The Shadows (EP) (2013)

What is it about a band that draws you in? Is it the vocals? Lyrics? Virtuosic guitars? Drums that can pound you into oblivion? Slick production work, chock full of auto-tune and vocal pitch correction? None of the above? Or is it come combination of all of those things, balanced delicately with one another? The choice is yours to make, but the answer is clear every week when the American Billboard sales are released. Most value nothing, really. And if you are looking for vapid, nonsensical pop hits, the four piece known as Within The Fall have nothing to offer you. Instead, they have fused death and doom metal into one monstrous output, bringing down the hammer of the Gods with each and every composition. That take all of the good traits listed above, and find a way to bring them together in a fractured harmony. A harmony that allows melody and morose to coexist, and give light to the dark. But without the aid of some structurally sound production, parts of their writing might not get the attention they deserve. But "Through The Shadows" does all it can, musically, to offset what it lacks, sonically.

Despite a relatively low volume threshold, "Into the Arms of Grief" comes out swinging. The massive chugging portions are brutally heavy, but not without reason. It becomes a signature, in a way, throughout the album as a whole. And though there are melodic passages, tagged with some extremely deft guitar work, it is the bass heavy growls of frontman Joakim Rudemyr that set the tone time and again. The real challenge that presents itself is making all of the separate pieces fit together in a coherent and well tuned mix. It is a recurring issue scattered here and there on the EP, though it never manages to cripple an otherwise solid effort. Case in point, the track "Leaving." The drum sound is huge, as it should be, but is lost in the other waveforms around it. Perhaps it is less of a leveling issue as it is a left to right mix. It's the kick drum that comes through clearest, providing that pounding beat that is the foundation for the rest of the track. In these more uptempo, thrashing moments, drummer Markus Norlén shines brightest. But when the tempo changes, as it does around the four minute mark, the guitar work takes over in a profound and versatile way. Guitarists Mike Wennerstrand and David Andersson have a keen sense of melody to go along with a penchant for extreme distortion.

The most balanced effort comes on "Shadows & Dust," a nearly seven minute opus that seems to find a middle ground between the atmospheric melodies and honest heaviness. The whispered lyrics are reminiscent of some Swallow The Sun efforts, creating a fairly forward mood. It is also here that you find the most straightforward instrumental, leaning heavily on the traditions of great doom metal from years past. Rudemyr sees his growls become even stronger when paired with a sweeping guitar melody, a stunning contrast of light and dark that could only be improved with additional clarity in the recording process. The mix, as it stands, will test the limits of your sound system of choice, pushing it to the brink of distortion. But the building of the track times throughout is no accident; the finale clocks in at a staggering eight minutes, making "The Burial" an intimidating but rewarding undertaking. Rudemyr whispers his way through the opening over a barely simmering layer of guitars and drums. As he breaks out in full melodic croon, you see another wrinkle added to the overall sound. But the first sonic shockwave, nearly halfway through the track, is enough to blow you back into your seat. This is the band at their best, in both sound and structure. They even find that narrow line between heavy and emotional, with the lyrics wrought with personal flare.

Despite all of the imperfections of the recording, Within The Fall have done enough to make believers out of the most skeptical of listeners. There is a stripped down honesty to the music, with the band refusing to dress it up and cover it with a thick layer of makeup to make it beautiful. Instead, they give it to you exactly as is, which is both their greatest strength and the area the stand to improve the most. With a focus on more smooth production work, in both recording and mixing, they stand to gain an entire new level of clarity and quality. All of the piece are there, and they all fit together nicely; but with the sometimes hazy, murky mix, it's difficult to see the forest for the trees. That said, it's obvious after multiple listens that this four piece has the sound, the substance, and the vision to grow in leaps and bounds. And while potential isn't always a guarantee of success, it is one of the main ingredients for a young metal band. As this journey begins, "Through The Shadows" is the first of many efforts, that will certainly bring the band out of the dark, and into the light.


Bandcamp - http://withinthefall.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/WithinTheFall

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