Withering Surface
Force the Pace

So imagine for a second that the last two In Flames and Soilwork albums had been really good. Same slight experimentation and clean vocal usage, but with the intensity of yore and deliberate thrash edge within the harsher Gothenburg sound. Intrigued? Then check out Denmark’s Withering Surface. With their fourth album, but truthfully the first that a larger audience will get to experience (prior efforts being on Euphonious and Copro), Force the Pace is the album Reroute to Remain should have been.

While In Flames and Soilwork brought their need to experiment and develop to the forefront of their music, somewhat forsaking their roots, Withering Surface retain a energetic, dynamic presence with slightly futuristic synths simply humming and pulsing in the background, allowing the tightly woven tunes to be guitar based and at times, rollicking as fuck. Vocalist Michael H. Anderson is the catalyst for Withering Surface, despite his obvious Fridden worship. He spits with rage and delivers minimal and solid clean vocals that never go out of his range. With a Tue Madsen production, the twin guitars Allan Tvedebrink and Jacob Krogholt have some considerable clout, and when essentially delivering classic In Flames riffs spiced up with a modern thrash edge, the end result is very entertaining.

Opener “Gears” offers up a standard upbeat, thrashing attention getter, and then slows down for the modern Gothenburg stylings of “Exit Sculpture,” but it never seems forced or sudden. For a title track, “Force the Pace” is surprisingly rudimentary considering the album’s initial complexity; it just shudders and thrashes with gusto. “Hold The Line” is essentially a chunkier rendition of any track from Colony or Whoracle, with the same moody melody coursing through the chorus. The futuristic synths used to emphasize the robotic pace of “Machinery” makes the end result sound like what Scarve have trying to accomplish for 2 albums, but this is done with both better melody and songwriting. “Inhale the Hyper Pulse” is the only track that never leaped out at me as being slightly more deliberate and controlled, again enforcing the newer In Flames comparison, but that feeling is soon washed away by the thicker consistency and churning harmonies of “State of Emergency.”

Want to hear a stunning example of how NWSDM is done, that’s to say the finely honed melody is sheathed is a vitriolic sheen? Just check out “Anything Goes,” especially the insanely well done riffs in the chorus. Overall, when the album is done, I’m honestly pretty awed just by the fact this genre can still be done so well, and be delivered with just enough of a modern veneer to keep it out of the realms of pure plagiarism. Though certainly not original and not quite as acidic as style sharing country mates Detonation, Withering Surface is somewhat of a breeze of energy in a genre that those bored with lifeless clones should find rewarding. . If the last 2 In Flames albums had you occasionally tickled but ultimately disappointed, check this out.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 7th, 2004

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