Withered Bones’ new album, In Search of Self-Evidence, is very much the fierce but meditative work its name suggests. Within the realm of melodic hardcore, with mostly screamed vocals, the expression of that is of course unique, but the thoughtful self-reflection on the album still shines through. Russ — the band’s vocalist — shied away from relying overly on metaphors on this release. Instead, it’s pretty much just unadulterated life experience seen through the lens of melodic hardcore music, and indeed, the lyrics are significantly gripping.
The band’s sense of what they’re doing feels at least as reliant on the themes being presented in the lyrics as much as it’s reliant on anything else. The music largely serves to paint the words being spoken, which are mostly able to be given your full attention while listening to In Search of Self-Evidence. The music might not be the most mind bogglingly heavy, but it’s purposeful and has a broad feel even still. The music goes beyond the level of simple emotion-stirring songs and grabs your whole soul pretty much, holding it in state until you’re finished listening.
The songs are vivid; one, for example, called ‘Hole In The Guardrail,’ tells the story of the band’s reaction to the very real possibility of crashing their tour van while on the road. “I think I’m on the brink of something ugly,” the band’s vocalist sings, describing an actual hole in the guardrail where some other vehicle went over the edge, and it’s hard to not envision the situation.
“Religion is a catalyst of self-destruction,” the band’s vocalist sings on ‘Indoctrinated,’ and taken within the context of the album, it’s hard for that statement to seem hollow or aloof. It’s pretty clear that overbearing religion has been an actual detriment for the artist behind this music, and the forces at play are something that the artist wants you to think about in your own life.
The album, as a whole, is a beautiful expression of thoughtful and artistic aggression. The voice here is a voice that deserves to be heard; there’s no mindless drivel here, and neither are there any overplayed tropes indicating broad over-ambition.