Florida is the last place you’d expect a band like Ovid’s Withering to come from. Florida creates bands like perennial world-beaters A Day to Remember, all-around good guy Aaron Gillespie’s The Almost and the scene-defining Underoath. It’s not a place you’d expect would spawn a symphonic tech death metal band (gyyargh, did I really just write that???) but well, here we are. In all honesty, though, were you to remove the symphonics and the beautiful piano work, it would merely be a good death metal album in the American way – fast, heavy, and technical. It’d still be miles ahead of the curve, and yet those simple additions make their new LP, Scryers of the Ibis, a game changer of the same magnitude as Make Them Suffer’s Neverbloom.
Wasting no time at all, opener “Earthshaker I” splits your face open like an axe through a watermelon. The order of the day is brutality, and OW bring the pain like few other bands can. Don’t mistake this for another Fleshgod Apocalypse copycat, though, as songs like “Oedipus Complex” and the breathtaking “Exile” show these guys are more than just speed freaks with a penchant for symphonics. On the contrary, they demonstrate a maturity and competence in song structures that is rarely witnessed in today’s chug-chug-chorus-dubstep-blaaaaaastbeeeeeeeeat-repeat culture.
There are glockenspiels, pianos and strings littered throughout the record, and these, coupled with the melody, breakdowns, tech-djent madness and hateful death metal fury, are all used sparingly so as to not dilute their impact. This is truly masterful songwriting, and the only band that they can aspire to is Make Them Suffer. Neverbloom is arguably the greatest Australian metal album ever released, and that’s almost entirely due to the keyboards and symphonic elements. More specifically, it’s about their placement. They aren’t a constant presence, and you often don’t notice them until pivotal points, like the intro of “Widower” and the chorus of “Weeping Wastelands”.
That’s what Ovid’s Withering have done here. They’ve used these different things sparingly and in such a manner that they only enhance the already sublime material on offer. These songs are simply captivating in their scale and scope. They are simultaneously consistent enough to maintain the album’s flow and varied enough to keep it interesting. In essence, Scryers of the Ibis is a virtually flawless record. It switches excellently between blistering death metal, titanic symphonic metal, mind-bending tech-djent and crushing melodic death metal. The most important thing it does right, however, is the way it uses the various extras to accentuate the listening experience. The haunting glockenspiel, the sinister piano, the unsettling cellos, they all work together in perfect harmony and the result is simply a masterpiece.