Founded in 2011, Norway's Withem has come along way in a short time. 2013's The Point Of You was a significant debut album garnering praise from the progressive metal world. Enough excitement was generated to send the band to the immensely popular ProgPower USA 2014. They also toured shoulder to shoulder with other successful Norwegian bands including Pagan's Mind, Seventh Wonder, and Circus Maximus. Just over three years past the first album the band returns with The Unforgiving Road.
Not meant to be either simplistic or condescending, but this album is pretty much just push repeat. That's to say that Withem stick with their formula, taking classic melodic heavy and power metal and twisting it with some progressive metal arrangements.
Again, as with the firs album, this is not overly technical stuff that you can't follow. Withem doesn't try to trick you or impress with massive amounts tempo and time signature shift that destroy any substance of melody. No. Both melody and groove are abundant here, along with catchy hooks in melody and refrains. In this sense, the want to both challenge you, keep you intrigued as it were, but also keep things accessible. When they do that, Withem is at their best. Notable for this are Riven, C'est la Vie, and The Eye In The Sky, which moves by quick-paced rock groove. For something I bit more on the pure prog metal side, a song such as In The Hands Of God has lots of twists. Something more in the power metal vein comes with Arrhythmia, a heavier sometimes hard charging song with large riffs (and nice, but short, bass solo after the midpoint.) The entire album is bookended with an Intro and Outro flavored with some melancholy keyboards.
Possibly the larger question at this point is, Is this album as good as the The Point Of You? And the answer would be, It's a worthy successor. I sense no new groundbreaking phenomena here, just a band evolving into their own style, a familiar style that fans of most melodic progressive metal easily recognize. Hey, creativity combined with musical accessibility and comfort is a good thing. If I were the deans of ProgPower USA, heck yeah, I'd invite them back. Recommended.
The Unforgiving Road is a worthy successor to The Point Of You. I sense no new groundbreaking phenomena here, just a band evolving into their own style, a familiar style that fans of most melodic progressive metal easily recognize. Hey, creativity combined with musical accessibility and comfort is a good thing.
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