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Ophis - Withered Shades 2LP

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Artikel-Nr.: WI10388

 

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Produktinformationen "Ophis - Withered Shades 2LP"

The second full-length album of German band. New material, even more harsh and gloomy is professionally produced and ready both to bring joy to old fans of traditional doom-death metal and to attract interest of those who just has started to get familiar with the genre. “Withered Shades” accumulated heavy riffs and acoustic passages, combined dynamic parts and atmospheric interludes.
The new album of Ophis is a new precious book in the world library of doom.
Solitude Productions

Solitude productions are not exactly a picky label. As a rule they've just picked up every single funeral doom and melodic death doom band they can find, regardless of quality. Of late they've added any old stoner doom acts to the mix too, but still, they're a very genre specific label which is what makes the presence of band like Ophis all the more surprising and enjoyable. Withered Shades is by and large traditional death/doom, it isn’t ultra slow, and it isn’t pretty; it’s mean, hateful and immense. It isn't afraid of getting a little faster and bludgeoning us with riffs, it isn't afraid of not being 'sublime' or 'beautiful'; it's ugly as sin and full of bile, and it relishes it's existence in this form.

The riffing on here cannot be understated; it's super heavy, bleak and oppressive as all hell. This is what a good doom riff is, it's not just having lots of sustain and blazing power chords, these riffs move with momentum, they have enough notes in them to be exciting and are interesting to listen to as they go, not just for setting mood, but just for the love of a great riff. The music certainly has it passages of melody ala Hooded Menace or Darkness Death Doom era Runemagick, as well as a couple of death metal sections, but mostly this album is all about crushingly meaty riffs that would make dinosaurs run for the hills. Closest comparisons to these riffs would be Coffins or other super heavy death doom acts, but they're fun, headbangable and far from derivative. The fairly frequent changes to more upbeat and rocking riffing gives a nice counter balance to the sheer heaviness that makes up most of this release, and makes the album a lot more fun and exciting for all involved.

The melodic work is the other draw point to the music on offer here, Ophis are perfectly aware that melody can be used for reasons other than just being pretty, instead these leads add a sense of decrepitude to the otherwise powerful music, and vary from the more traditional beautiful and epic sounds to the off kilter and downright unsettling. The band gives themselves a lot of time to explore all facets of their sound so everything is given suitable amounts of focus over the course of the album.

The production here is mostly good, the guitars are fuzzy and distorted and mixed with a lot of volume, making them the clear focus. This does leave the drumming a little bit more restrained than I'd hope for, but the sound is good and suitably grand in scale. The vocals are mostly mixed up nice and high too, with the quality growls becoming a fitting narration over the destruction and misery the band exudes. The exception are the guest vocals on "Suffering is a Virtue", which are lowered shrieks which float nicely in the background, which considering the Varg-like delivery, it's probably a safer choice than having the blaring over the top.

These songs are very long, and while the band can string together riffs well, switching between crushing sections, melodies and death metal parts frequently without ever sounding stop-start, they can get a little long winded. They're well written with riffs returning when needed and major shifts in tone or tempo called upon when the crawl starts to get tedious, but the constant barrage of 10 minute+ songs gets to be a bit of a chore. The whole album clocks in at a monstrous 64 minutes with only 5 tracks, which most would say isn't too long for doom, but it makes the whole album quite a task to listen to in full with total focus.

Withered Shades is probably the second best doom album this year, just beaten out by Hooded Menace's second full length. This is a far more morbid and underground affair, and evokes a more devastating feeling, but it is a bit overlong, and for all the variations thrown in, you are still getting a good 50 minutes of thunderous booming riffs, which is probably a bit overkill. I've heard mixed things about the debut, but Ophis have basically gotten everything right here, and are definitely a band to check out for any doom fan.

 

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