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Withered Flowers : First Withering

Withered Flowers play Doom-by-the-numbers.



This debut offering from a Russian band describing themselves as "oldschool Doom/Death" consists of five original tracks and a cover of Katatonia's "Without God". In terms of sound quality, it is acceptable, if a little tinny and devoid of any post-production flourishes. Likewise, the self-created cover art and accompanying lyric/information sheet. Judging by the limited information on the internet, mainly on Russian-only message boards, they are very much still a local band with a very limited budget.

Sadly, this demo is unlikely to significantly change that status. It starts off with the moderately attention-holding use of a mournful bell, but swiftly moves into more pedestrian realms. The individual musicians display competency with their instruments, but no real ambition to use that with any creative flair. They produce a clean sound, with very limited use of any tricks beyond the occasional sustain into feedback, but it essentially goes nowhere. They are quite badly hampered, too, by the use of an almost-spoken vocal monotone that is unlikely to hold mass appeal. In attempting to produce a clean growl, if that is not a contradiction, it achieves rather less than picking one or the other style would. On this point, it might, perhaps have been a mistake to write English lyrics - while it is possible to get the gist of the song from them, they are clearly not the work of someone very familiar with the language. The best track of the demo is in Russian and it obviously benefits the singer to understand and be able to emphasise the meaning and flow of the words.

Notably, this track, the title of which translates to something like "Dreams In Light", also benefits from being one of the shortest, at just under 7 minutes. It is still too long for the actual content, but less noticeably so than the remainder. All of them contain needless, meandering repetition and arbitrary, rather contrived changes of tempo that distract from rather than add to the music. This lack of structure and discipline, particularly when the drums and bass appear to be along just to make up the numbers, makes it hard for the listener to maintain much of an interest.

Possibly the biggest mistake of the demo was the cover version: "Without God" first appeared on Katatonia's own demo, and provides a stark illustration of just how Doom-by-the-numbers Withered Flowers currently are by comparison. A flat, soulless and ultimately tedious interpretation that completely misses the sheer venom of the original work, or even of the derivative but listenable cover version from fellow Russians Forest Stream (on the Katatonia tribute album "December Songs" (Northern Silence, 2006)).

It should be noted that the demo is not without the occasional flash of promise, such as in the semi-acoustic introduction to "When The Devil Says Good Night", or the bell at the start of "Monks Of Doom" but taken in summary, there is simply not enough emotion, atmosphere or craft here to recommend it. To damn with faint praise: it isn't terrible, just an exercise in mediocrity. More seriously for the band, it shows no sign of developing a consistent direction that might raise them above that level.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated

Information

Tracklist :
1. Monks Of Doom
2. Cross The Styx
3. When The Devil Says Goodnight
4. The Touch Of Pale Glow
5. Снится Свет...
6. Without God (Katatonia Cover)

Duration : Approx. 47 minutes

Visit the Withered Flowers bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-08-23 by Mike Liassides
Aesthetic Death
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