Shroud of Bereavement/Withersoul - Split


Jun 17, 2004
Shroud of Bereavement/Withersoul - Split
Oak Knoll Productions - OKP009 - March 2006
By George Grant


Split releases are a difficult thing to review. Each band is only given half the time of a full length to create an impression on the listener. New England’s Oak Knoll Productions has started a split series in hopes of showcasing some interesting bands to the masses, with an emphasis on extreme metal. This split is the first of their series. Hopefully the bands have placed their best material forward to grab our attention.

The first band in this split release is Shroud of Bereavement. This American group plays an interesting combination of neo-classical doom metal. To help strengthen the neo-classical side, Shroud of Bereavement utilizes a string section. These natural instruments really help in building the atmosphere.

Shroud of Bereavement’s main focus is sorrow. Both tracks are slow in tempo and rely heavily on building to a climax. At first, haunting female vocals over acoustic music is heard, but as in each song, heavy distorted guitars and growled male vocals are added. The string section earlier mentioned is used quite tastefully throughout the split, much like in Borknagar’s most recent release. Instead of clouding the soundscape with the natural instruments, Shroud of Bereavement carefully weaves them into the compositions to heighten the moment.

However, in the first track, A Maddening Hue, Shroud of Bereavement takes too long to reach the dynamic climax. The song falls into a rut with a repetitive section that is in desperate need of variation. When the song finally reaches the climax, it’s hard to be captivated. Luckily, in the next track, …And Tears Shall Flood the Earth, Shroud of Bereavement escapes the same trap.

Considering I’m not the biggest doom fan, Shroud of Bereavement does create some interesting music. The female vocals can be hit or miss at times, but when they are mixed with the growled vocals it’s less of a problem. Overall, I was impressed with what the band had to offer.

Sadly, the same could not be said about the second band on the split, Withersoul. They play a form of metal that borrows influences from doom to symphonic metal and just about everything in between. The majority of the riffs heard on their tracks are in a more groove oriented melodic death metal style. Symphonic keyboards, akin to Cradle of Filth, are added to create depth to the songs, but this ultimately backfires. The mixture of genres paints a picture of a band that is musically lost.

It also doesn’t help that the ideas expressed in the music are nothing new. Many of the guitar riffs and keyboard melodies are ones that countless bands are exploring now. In all three songs abrupt changes are used for new sections. This made it seem as though the band just pasted together unrelated riffs to create the songs. With all of these elements combined, Withersoul is a band that needs guidance. If they concentrated on one genre or one idea they could have potential.

In the end, this split only offers one band of worth. Doom metal fans may be interested in checking out Shroud of Bereavement and their brand of sorrowful metal. As for Withersoul, some serious work needs to be done before they’re given as a recommendation.

Official Shroud of Bereavement Website
Official Withersoul Website
Official Oak Knoll Productions Website