Wiht was a UK band who built a formidable reputation for their impressive epic and evocative instrumentals but last March the Leeds trio called it a day much to the upset of a great many. Now the band through Devouter Records gets a deserved final farewell with the release of their final album The Harrowing of the North digitally and on coloured vinyl. Previously available in 2011 the re-release features an additional track to leave one lasting mark from one of Britain’s best underground experimental talents.
The band began in March 2009 and in their three years created a stirring and inciting blend of doom, stoner, and psychedelic rock which was rich and colourful in ambience and heavy and expressive in intensity. Together bassist Joe Hall, guitarist Chris Wayper, and drummer Rick Contini, explored and turned the widest array of aural colours into a unique and compelling canvas of descriptive sounds and emotive richness. It was driven by storming riffs which were as instinctive as breathing but as imaginative as life and rhythms which caged the senses with skill and power before rewarding them with their own hypnotic and creative slavery. The Harrowing of the North is the perfect last word with its three songs encapsulating everything which made the band so highly thought of, if also igniting a sadness they are no longer here to further their boundaries and vision. Across their years the band sparked a growing fan base with impressive performances supporting artists like Brant Bjork and the Bros, Yob, Corrosion of Conformity, Humanfly, Khuda, Dopefight, A Forest of Stars and Conan, and made their final appearance at Desertfest 2012, playing alongside Corrosion of Conformity, Orange Goblin, Ancestors and Black Cobra to name a few. With one song still unreleased, Devouter has stepped forward to give it a fitting introduction within the re-release of their excellent last album.
Thirty three minutes in length, the first two tracks which made up the original album are themed by William the Conqueror and his subjugation of the North of England in the 11th century. The title track opens up its vast story in a slowly emerging presence with sonic teasing and a brewing intensity shaped by a singularly seductive guitar. The track scores the Norman raids and massacring of the Yorkshire people and their land and once in full vision the piece almost meanders into its first of eight movements bringing the events to emotive life. Leading one comfortingly with tender guitar caresses against the sense of an impending challenge from the drums, it feels like the lull before the storm, a misguided confident peace about to be shaken out of its restive complacency. The stoner riffs and psychedelic massaging now energising the senses equally and skilfully ignites thoughts and emotions whilst looking at the music outside of its themed context, the track is a sensational passage of styles and imagination which seamlessly has the passions and senses twisting and dancing to the ingenious and continually evolving aural painting.
Second track Orderic Vitalis is a grouchy encounter which is dedicated to the named outspoken chronicler in the title who stood loyal to his king but was outraged at his cruelty and condemned him in his writings. The piece conjures and moves through shadows set by the again compelling bass imagination of Hall, whilst the guitar of Wayper lights the way through the heavy oppressive dark tones with a sculpted elegance. It is a wholly mesmeric track which paints its own imagery for individual interpretation but with evident awareness of the emotions being instilled in the listener through the sensational sounds. It is at times overbearing and always intimidating but equally has a strength and determination to refuse full submission to the impending darkness whispering loudly throughout.
The final and brand new track End Of The Reign finds its place easily alongside the other two, its haunting ethereal piano kissed entrance dripping with a morose ambience. The track then evolves into a muscular giant with rampant yet restrained rhythms from the perpetually impressive Contini and a sonic gnawing of the ear from the fiery guitar narrative. Again the bass brings a daunting depth to the piece and with every element combined track and album easily sets the band apart from the rest and leaves one immersed in the near furnace like heat of irresistible enterprise.
The Harrowing of the North is simply outstanding and with the new track the perfect and greatest way to wave farewell to With.
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