I was very hesitant to review “The Unforgiving Road” by Norway’s Withem for two basic reasons. One, I didn’t find their debut album “The Point of You” to be all that interesting. Secondly, since they signed to Frontiers, I assumed they would go the way of Circus Maximus and be turned into a shitty AOR “metal” band. The good news is that this album is a lot better than their debut and Withem have basically released the album that Circus Maximus SHOULD HAVE!
“The Unforgiving Road” is not a shredfest at all. It’s a collection of very well written and performed SONGS. Part of why it is better than their debut is that the songs and the playing are stronger plus they were a very generic sounding band from what I can barely recall. When you have clear Dream Theater and Symphony X influences, it can be difficult to stand out. While they have stepped a bit from that, they still sound a lot like fellow countrymen Pagan’s Mind. They could certainly do worse.
The mix and production on “The Unforgiving Road” are both stellar. The songs have plenty of bite to them. One area of concern is that vocalist Ole Aleksander Wagenius, while possessing great range and a strong voice, he can be a bit grating at times from a tone aspect. He almost tries just a bit too hard at times. Still, the notes on the chorus for “In the Hands of a God” are quite amazing.
None of the songs overstay their welcome either. Withem are able to jam a lot into 5 minutes and never seem like they are short changing the listener. I do wish they would have had a longer track on the album. Still, they make up for it with some kick ass tracks like “The Pain I Collected,” “Arrhythmia,” and especially “Riven” which is my favorite track. Even the intro and outro on this album are good tracks.
If you want a very listenable, hook laden slab of classic prog metal, “The Unforgiving Road” is well worth your time. I suggest that Circus Maximus take some notes here. THIS is the album that “Havoc” should have been. Withem have made a huge step forward with “The Unforgiving Road” and I will be interested to hear if Frontiers leaves them alone.
3. In The Hands Of A God
4. The Pain I Collected
6. C’est La Vie
7. The Eye In The Sky
9. In My Will
10. Unaffected Love
Label: Frontiers Music s.r.l.