WITHERIA, Spiral of Madness (2005, demo)
Here’s a fine skull, emblazoned with some kind of logo sigil or something and hovering dead in the center of the cover. But, I dunno, wouldn’t it maybe be better if he was in the middle of a motherfucking spiral? Don’t even try to tell me that all that reticulated crap at the margins is a spiral. It is not a spiral. Shit like this makes me crazy, and the title is not Missing Spiral of Madness, or Where’s the Spiral of Madness? Am I asking too much? Am I being unreasonable? I am not.
9 times out of 10, a bad name equals a bad band, and let’s be frank: Witheria is a bad name. It conjures the memory of all those shitty goth metal bands of the mid 90s, something with violins and a woman with a reedy voice singing about swans and/or sadness. And yes, yes, we should not judge books by covers, bands by their name, etc, but we all do, and sometimes we get burned. I have a friend who stays amazingly on top of pretty much all the thrash and melodic death metal that comes out every year, and he posts epic lists of his findings every year, and he’s recommended this band THREE TIMES, and I think probably I just blanked out at “Witheria”. Well, my loss, because this band is pretty damned cool. They’re semi-complex thrash with crazy riffs and interesting arrangements, but they don’t come off as retro at all. The only older band they remind me of at all is my beloved Rosicrucian, and the resemblance is spiritual more than anything. The vocals are the only sticking point, and even they aren’t bad, tending toward the high raspy growl that was popular in the Gothenburg heyday. It’s just that it’s easy to imagine a more interesting vocal approach than this, considering the strength of the music. It’s pretty rare that a Big Dumb Skull band impresses me like this, and more or less as soon as I listened to these three tunes, I started tracking down their studio albums. And those even have great art as well (even if they sadly lack skulls in the conventional sense.) Here’s to unexpected gifts!
— Friar Johnsen