Withering Surface image




History & Biography


It seems that the job of refuting the claims of biographies, debunking false perceptions and putting matters in perspective is becoming a full time, year-round job at Metallian Towers. Three subjects have been assigned a corner of the Imperial Library just to research the matter on a full-time basis. Anyone who has been following this writer's classics may have noted the many instances of such occurrences. The reason may be the heightened confidence of publicists that we will gulp whatever they write unquestioningly or a lessening of critical reading and knowledge on behalf of the metal press and radio in tandem with the dumbing down of society. The fact remains that taking the information provided in biographies at face value is hazardous to the truth and not exactly conducive to an absorption of facts. The intention here by no means is to pick on Withering Surface or Euphonious Records, but one look at the bio and a few things have to be placed into perspective. Firstly, the bio forgets to mention that half the band were as recently as last year treading under the Craw Cell monicker where, among others, they appeared on the Utopian Vision compilation CD. Worse is mentioning the band's demo Unique as being accorded the title of The Best Metal Demo Tape of 1995 by Danish national radio's metal program. I would love to be corrected, but last I checked the aforementioned metal show was hosted by B. Ahlstrand who happens to be the business partner of vocalist Andersen. Additionally, Ahlstrand lends some vocals to this album. I like space here to reiterate that this is by no means picking on either of these guys - last I personally checked one of them was a great guy and a big contributor to the metal scene, but I believe we all need to retrieve our perspective from Babylon 5 and integrate more integrity into our words and actions. Enough of that. Scarlet... features the sexiest Danish cover chick since Pretty Maids' Red Hot And Heavy album (OK, there was Konkhra’s Spit album). On the musical front the five-piece follows the path of its inspirations In Flames and Cradle of Filth. Unfortunately for me, and other metal fans, there is the trendy presence of keyboards in this which takes away from the band's credibility. Worse, there is a female vocalist too - yes, yet another one of those. This is getting really stale. The band has talent and lots of writing capability as a song like the title track clearly demonstrates with its good and clean riffs, rhythm and successful sound. So a hit and miss affair for now and once again I have to refer you to your personal tastes for a final verdict. - Ali "The Metallian"

Ladies and gentlemen, here we go again. Here comes another band with a female guest vocalist. Do people realize what a bad image this gives humans in the animal kingdom? Humans have usurped sheep as the ultimate herd mentality creature. Scene after metal scene is degenerating. One could have forgiven Withering Surface's wimpy album name, for its Dark Tranquillity/In Flames-tinged compositions show some promise. One could have also ignored how the sound is too treble because the vocalist can inject good venom via his larynx. Nevertheless this whole K&F (keyboard and female vocals) schtick has gone way too far. When will this lame trend end? - Ali "The Metallian"

The new album of the Danish speed/thrash metallers Withering Surface has turned out well. Living and playing around the fringes of Gothenburg, influences from In Flames and Dark Tranquility are never far, but Force The Pace is true to its words and puts the originators through their, well, paces. The music is fast and skilled, the solos impressive, the rhythm tight, the vocals as grating as anybody else's out there and the sound both punchy and clear.
In general, Force The Pace does a good job of mixing melodic rhythms with brutal metal violence. The vocals get in on the act though infusing the odd growl into the harsh screaming. The band's influences being what they are, electronic elements are always sadly bubbling under the surface, but the bulk of the album is metal. The listener gets treated to some Arch Enemy-esque soloing and techno-death too.
If one can ignore the explicit influences, the odd synthesizer and clean backing chants then there is quite a lot to discover and like on Withering Surface's fourth full-length. - Ali "The Metallian"

Withering Surface’s homeland of Denmark and Gothenburg are separated by the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, but that has not stopped the group from being associated, almost since its inception, with the Swedish city’s sound. The band’s line-up has seen several changes recently. We have gone through a pandemic whose dangers sent the world into lockdowns and curtailed cultural activities. The band is thirty years old. What does it all mean for Exit Plan?
Past an Intro called [Enter], enters a pounding style of metal that is mostly dynamic musically. The fast parts remain as do the heavy parts. By and large, the vocals are screamed and, amidst the aforementioned upheaval, there is good news. Normally, change is like a right-wing/conservative politician: bad news. Here, however, Withering Surface has lost its keyboard player and metal fans would agree that is good news.
Something that quickly manifests itself, however, is the somewhat odd, somewhat thin-sounding production. Adjusted my equaliser a couple of tries and still the production came across as something akin to quivering. The string sounds have been taped thinly on purpose perhaps to make the sound roomier or more modern. Perhaps, the bass is too high-pitched here, but it is actually the guitars that are tuned so. Whatever the case, the equalisers helped the proceedings. Incidentally, the album’s producer Søren Andersen (Artillery, Pretty Maids, etc.) name checks Faith No More and Soilwork.as a comparison and thankfully… he is wrong. It would have been torture listening to an album five times for an accurate review were it one by either of those acts. Withering Surface should be insulted.
Luckily, Withering Surface has little to do with those band names. And no keyboards (well, there are a little) and my day became progressively better. On the flip side, the tasteful leads are entirely too short and the band should have included more of them. The riffs are good and the vocals abrasive. Think of Withering Surface as melody and growls (think At The Gates or Carcass vocals) interspersed with some vocal variety (think Dark Tranquillity). Still, the music is more complex than that description. A touch of Meshuggah is present with the technicality and associated heavy bass distortion. Moreover, hearing a song like Where Dreamers Die tells the listener the group is of a high capability calibre. [Enter] is followed by Exit Plan - shouldn’t it be the other way around? - which is coincidental since there is a song called Not The Destination later. The vocals are a mixture of hoarse and screamed. Returning drummer Jakob Gundel, who is billed as a guest, is (was) a talented presence and adds much to the proceedings. Hear the drummer’s work on The Oracle for such an instance. The song starts more slowly, also has some rocky moments and fades out like a pop song. Drummer Jakob Gundel likes sweeping his cymbals by the way. Exit Plan has a classy solo. I Finally Lost All Faith In Humanity the band declares via a progressive song title - to which we at Metallian Towers say ‘what took you so long?’ - which is both catchy and fast. The guitarist shines here. Denial Denial Denial is the weak link. Not quite a filler, but it is indistinguishable and has the keyboards and rocky backing vocals. Mindreader is the closer and also more commercial or overtly rock-oriented. Put these two tracks aside and things look up and the songs show off much to like. The heavy riffs and drumming are ever-present. Moreover, for a band that had a full-time keyboardist and gothic female vocals once things are looking better and better. There are fast moments, genuine heavy moments and melody too for those who crave this mixture. This is an ‘80’ mark for me for two reasons. Firstly, the album’s material supports the grade. Secondly, the depth of the material makes me imagine it is music that will be listenable over some time.
The album is adorned with an intriguing and distinctive cover artwork by Niklas Sundin (until recently a member of Dark Tranquillity), which is much improved over the non-descript artwork for Meet Your Maker from 2020, which was probably inspired by works like the Mountain Sketch paintings by Lawren Harris.
By the way, it sounded like the band was planning a farewell again, given the title of the album, until the guitarist clarified it for us. - Ali “The Metallian”

Speaking with guitarist Allan Tvedebrink of Withering Surface is a pleasure. There is the music, of course, but he is friendly, patient and polite. Allan and Ali “The Metallian” managed to spend half an hour just trying to connect and he remained composed and attentive. The subject of the conversation was Exit Plan, which is the Denmark-based band’s sixth full-length and second on singer Michael H. Andersen’s Mighty Music. The band also features bassist Jesper Kvist and the 2024 entrants guitarist Marco Angioni and drummer Troels Lund-Sørensen. Long-time drummer Jakob Gundel recorded the album, which was produced by Søren Andersen, but has departed the fold since. - 15.06.2024

METALLIAN: Let's get going! Thank-you for your time. First and foremost congratulations on the new album, Exit Plan.
ALLAN: Thank you very much.

METALLIAN: Clearly, the band has put a lot of work into the record. One can hear the fast parts, the heavy parts and the progressive parts with tracks having multiple layers. How is this album different from the previous one, which was the comeback album?
ALLAN: Well, how can I explain because I know what you mean. I think when we reunited in 2019 and decided to do an album we were, you know, it had been fifteen years since we've been playing together and we had to find out how we are doing this. I found myself writing many tunes, and I thought they were great, and I mean, I still think that was a great album, but there were some things I would do differently.when we, kind of, hung up everything and had it released. During the, you know obviously, when you record an album that's like a period where you work a lot with it. You kind of reflect on what it is and how it is done. Then half a year from when it's actually done until it gets released I had a lot of time to think about what was going on and there was some stuff I would have liked to elaborate further on and also improve. We had some talks in the band and we agreed that there was some stuff that could be improved for the next album. So we did! I think, for my own sake, I think we succeeded very well, and it's very, very nice to to hear in reviews and talking to people that that they also have the same feeling about the new album.

METALLIAN: Give me a couple of examples of what you changed or what those improvements are.
ALLAN: First of all, I was in a weird place in my life when the last one was recorded. I mean, I did all the demos at home, writing the music, and then, when it came to recording, it was a little on, off and on, like in little bad conditions… So, I wasn't as focused as I could be. So we talked about what we needed. We needed to put in some more energy; not to put in faster songs or heavier songs or whatever, but a little more, you know, leaning forward, instead of leaning backwards, and be a little more focused on the execution. So, that's the main thing.and also having me getting into the Withering Surface universe of writing. We have a lot of history with stuff you couldn't do and what was allowed within the band, but since it was only me writing stuff now, and everybody was like onboard with with what I did, I just explored and used the freedom I had to to explore further in the universe. I also didn't want to do just another album, but to challenge myself and everybody involved so that's also something I think is a big difference.
It is obvious also, that Michael needed to find his way of doing vocals in this new edition of the band and he definitely also improved a lot from the last one to the new one. I think so. He's also a little bit more sharp and, kind of, more knows where he wants to go.

METALLIAN: For my taste, and compared to the old days, and I'm talking 20 or 30 years ago, the band has come a long way from a dedicated keyboardist or female vocals that I remember in the ‘90s. This is an improvement, right? There's a little keyboard here on the album, but overall the new package is all the talent, all the good parts of the band and very little of the bad parts. Yet, this has to be asked, is it an indication that the band is going to go away again because the name of the album is ‘Exit Plan.’
ALLAN: No, no, we're not going away. But well, I guess it's a two-part question. From the very beginning we were very young and we were trying to find ourselves and what we were doing. We were doing the writing together and, I think, I did most of it also back then, but we had to agree that we weren't that good a musicians back then. And the songwriting, I mean, I love the songs I like to play them live and stuff, but there's just some immature, naive kind of way of doing things and maybe someone would argue that that's better than having a controlled and planned out structural songs or composition, but yeah, so it's definitely very different from back in the day. We matured a lot in those 15 years, both musically in how we play and what we prioritise in the music.
We're definitely not going anywhere. When we reunited it was Jacob Gundel, the original drummer, Michael and I as the original members. Now it's not the last rendition of the band that got together because that didn't end too well. Yet, right now we are really focused. We just love doing music together. We have a great understanding of what we want and don't want, and who we are. We are such a good team and we love what we are doing, both creatively and musically, but also the more practical stuff of the band, and it's all put into who's doing what and the way it’s done. So we'll definitely do more albums together. It's not the ‘exit plan’ for the band.

METALLIAN: As I kept listening to the album, I thought, it's a negative album. As far as pessimism goes, which is completely fine, because it must be and might be realism. But the question really is, what made you lose faith in humanity?
ALLAN: Well, the lyrics are all Michael's. He does all the lyrics as he also is the one who is going to yell them out, and I guess, there is a whole lot of pessimism in the narrative and in the base of the overall theme. Yet, the outcome, the overall theme is actually very positive as it's a reflection, as far as I understood it, and I've been, of course, talking to Michael about it, and I know the lyrics. Yet, it's also my interpretation of what we've been talking about. But it's kind of a continuation from the 2020 album Meet Your Maker, which was a little bit like coming to terms with who you are; where you come from and what was the basis of who you are, be it in relationships both with girlfriends, or family, and how you were brought up and how your parents were dealing with a lot of things. Michael has been dealing with a lot of stuff with his parents, who are both dead now, and that was kind of like dealing with the ‘who’, ‘who am I’, ‘where I come from’ and ‘what is the reason for how I am like today.’
Exit Plan is dealing with all of this baggage. Having carried around a lot of bad stuff for most of your life you say, ‘okay. now I need to move on.’ This is my ‘exit plan.’ This is how I want to live the rest of my life and really focus on what I do. You ask, ‘what do I really want in my life? Which kind of people? Which kind of a relationship with people and with sex and religion…’ The world is kind of starting. It is a new beginning, which is a little weird for us playing all these years, but like the plan says you want to live the rest of your life, not waste time and energy on bad stuff, bad relationships; bad memories from your childhood.and instead focus on how you want to carry yourself for the rest of your life, if if that makes any sense at all.

METALLIAN: Well, it is what it is and you explain it. Having said that, you've put a positive point of view to it. Yet, as a listener, listening to the songs over and over and then reading titles like Exit plan or You Hurt This Child or Not The Destination one perceives that this is negative.
ALLAN: Well, yeah, of course you are so right. I haven't really thought of that. But also losing faith and humanity is also… I think there's a global aspect and a more local personal aspect, but you know, seeing what's going on in the world, could it be war? And immigration? I mean, people who have to flee from their homes, how we fuck up the environment… It is sorting out the bad stuff and focusing on the positive stuff moving forward. It’s about weeding out and the best of your life. It's more about dealing with the naive conception of the world and of a naive view that people will always be good in the end, but just realising that it's not the case. There will always always be people who fuck up stuff for each other and for everyone else. And so that's a kind of a lost faith, but also leaving that behind and taking all the bad people out of the equation. Of course you can't do that globally. That would be wonderful. But who's to decide right?

METALLIAN: The Prime Minister of Denmark was just attacked. What do you think of that?
ALLAN: I wasn't actually surprised when I heard it. We've had attacks on politicians before in Denmark and I think everywhere else more or less. The good thing is that the attacks are really minor. I mean, we had a Prime Minister, who was, they threw red paint on him because we were involved in the Iraq War. There was a politician who was in the wrong neighbourhood with a lot of immigrants, and she's opposed to immigrants. So they didn't want her in that neighbourhood, which I do understand. It was clearly provocative from her. and I think they tossed eggs at her or something and the attack on the Prime Minister this last week. Someone pushed her and she fell to the ground. It was a hard push. But it wasn't anything. She wasn't hurt more or less. She got a little… I think she got a minor whiplash, but she's okay. I read some weird stuff. It was a Polish guy. I don't know what he was doing In that place, but he said something about how he was really happy to see her.and I don't know then why he pushed her. I haven't read more about.it was so weird, but luckily it's not that bad. There's no one with guns, it's been relatively safe for politicians to move around in Denmark and I think it still is. We have this annual festival, almost like a people's festival and meeting where politicians meet with common people, and they have debates and stuff. and the Prime Minister also participated, but in a scaled down program. I just saw a clip on the TV where she was surrounded by, I think there were like eight or ten, police and private bodyguards. That's a little sad, but I think it's also a reaction to last week. So, in a few months we would probably get back to normal.

METALLIAN: One hopes. So let's talk about a couple of tracks. The quick one is [Enter], which is ‘enter’ in brackets. First, is that a backward track playing?
ALLAN: No, no, it's not. From the moment I started writing Exit Plan, which became the title track, I knew that it was going to be the first track of the album. I thought that something was missing in how it started.so I wanted to do a little intro. So, I did that. It's not reversed. It's just sounds from…yeah, I don't know if I should say it because it is just sounds from my home. It's me outside scraping snow. It's actually my coffee machine making the ‘oof’ sound. I am not spoiling it for you (laughs).
Yeah, I was just playing around and having fun. And it was, just playing around. The guitars are just a loop, the tapping stuff. It's just an intro. I actually just read a review which says that ‘the intro was just stupid. Why have a track like that?’ And it's like, it's not a track. It's an intro!
As an avid streamer of music and as someone who also loves my vinyl, I love to put on an album. I also listen to new bands on streaming services and if there's anything I hate, it's a track that starts with a long, long intro. So, the actual reason for why they are separated is because I didn't want the title track to start off with a one-minute long intro track and people would just have to skip the intro every time they wanted to hear the song. So it’s basic. Yet, it also had to be done. That is the story behind it.

METALLIAN: What's the sound effect at the beginning of Where Dreamers Die?
ALLAN: Yeah, it's reminiscent of some drums in the song itself. That actually was the producer, the mixer. It was his idea to have a little something extra. He actually did it. He took some drums from the track somewhere and just put an effect on it, and had it playing before the song.

METALLIAN: How many tracks did you use on this album? It sounds like there's so much going on.
ALLAN: That is actually also what I wanted with this album. I wanted to explore more and have more layers, but this is the most simple album layout in terms of tracks for instruments because we only have drums, obviously the bass, one guitar side, then the solo and that's it. Of course, there is the keyboard stuff. You know, the song has a little bit of a punky's vibe (makes a beat sound), and I wanted to keep it. Not too much with keyboards and all kinds of weird stuff.

METALLIAN: It's funny that you say “punky,” because I thought it's progressive. It has fast parts, heavy parts, a lot of guitars, the solos, but the solos are too short. There's so much going on, and the tempo changes, that I did not think punk. I thought progressive.
ALLAN: Yeah, but the punk thing is only the verse. But yeah, but you're right. It's not punky at all overall. It's actually funny that you mentioned that song, because I remember when I was compiling the tracks to give to the producer. I was thinking that something is missing here, because there were just these two guitar tracks and then the solo, like something is missing. But no, there are just two guitar tracks and of course, keys which the way that I am there is a little so it’s almost like a little extra layer. There are many tracks on some of the other songs, especially the ones with a really different middle piece.

METALLIAN: I Finally Lost (All Faith In Humanity) is a complex one, I thought. Then there is The Oracle.
ALLAN: There's some stuff going on which is like a pick in that bridge leading up to the chorus, but it's actually the only song that doesn't have a solo.

METALLIAN: Withering Surface is not Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Still, what if I call the band a progressive one?
ALLAN: It's a compliment. It's a big compliment, I think.and so thank-you for that. I have always listened to progressive music and I think it's very. impressive what people can do both creatively but also technically. Of course, there are a lot of differences when you say “progressive music.” What is it? Is it Cream? Is it Dream Theater? Is it Flesh God Apocalypse? There are a lot of ways to see it, but thank you. I embrace it. I think I know what you mean. We have a lot of guitar work. It's not super jerking off the fretboard kind of stuff, but now that we have Marco who is a good soloist there is a lot of potential. The album has a lot of guitar stuff and layers. I love writing music like that, and I hope it's not too much for people to grasp. A lot of people are just tired of solos and guitar stuff. They just want to hear Rammstein type music. But I mean, we're writing music for ourselves first and foremost, and then, if people like it, it's great and then we are going on that journey together. I think it's also that I really wanted to be melodic and diverse. I wouldn't exchange Michael's vocals for anything. When you have a growling and screaming singer you need, need the extra dimension of stuff to hang your coat on like melodies and riffs that make sense so you don't get bored, if you know what I mean.

METALLIAN: Yes and shredding with no song is tiring. Going back to my favourite song Where Dreamers Die, it's complex and has a lot of guitars so you cannot become bored of it. You are listening to different tempos, and to use the word you used, layers.
ALLAN: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I think you're right. There are more layers on this album than the last one and I also got an appetite for doing more, and I think I am going to explore that even more on the newer music. We are thinking about doing the next album already because it's very fun and interesting. Since we now have Marco in the band we get together and ask, ‘what are you saying?’ and ‘what is that expression?’ I mean, we fit right in with each other. We have the same preferences for music. We think much alike when it comes to harmony similarities, progressions and stuff like that. He is also talented on other instruments, bass and keyboard, and he can play all kinds of weird things. He has a studio and he's doing demos and projects where he does everything himself. I think it's going to be very interesting to see input from him. It's going to affect our output.

METALLIAN: Allan, thank you very much for your time, thanks for your patience and for the music…
ALLAN: … and thank-you for your time. It's great. It was great talking to you. I really like these interviews where there is a different approach than just answering when or how did it start and what kind of music do you do. It's super amazing to hear that you've been following us from the beginning. We really appreciate that. That's just priceless.

METALLIAN: Why do you think that Metallian is the best source of metal on the planet?
ALLAN: Obviously, Metallian is the best source for metal on the planet because you can read about Withering Surface – and it's the only place you'll find bad reviews of our early albums (laughs).

The Exit Plan album is available through Mighty Music. Information on the band is available here.

If you enjoyed this, read Amon Amarth

Band flyer

Withering Surface