Review: Withdraw ”Struwwelpeter” [Running Wild Productions]

Review: Withdraw ”Struwwelpeter” [Running Wild Productions]

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79 %
User Rating : 4.9 (2 votes)

Grim Tales. Excellent Storytelling. Solid Musicianship…

For those who might not be fluent in the tongues of Austrian metal: Withdraw has certainly been on many a radar these days and the project’s sole member Witege certainly deserves more ears and eyes on him and his black metal excursions. Having released a myriad of EPs, splits, and full-lengths since its inception ca. 2020/2021, Withdraw surely has been one of the more prolific underground acts rooted in my homeland as of late.

Struwwelpeter is centered around the famous book of the same name, written by Heinrich Hoffmann in the middle of the 19th century. Being a surprisingly unsettling read for a children’s book all by itself, Witege manages to put a black metal spin to it, which works pretty damn well due to the rather disturbing subject matter within. Witege’s voice shows great dynamic interplay with many subtle stages between consenting whispers and anguished screams reminiscent of the children being tortured and/or emotionally scarred on offer. His vocal work is surely capable of carrying a mood and telling a dozen different stories in a related setting without blending into one gawky ruckus is quite a feat.

A necessary one too, since the style of choice is a pretty raw kind of traditional black metal that demands an adept hand to not become a chore over time. Witege is certainly competent in this field, the musicianship is rock-solid, but this style demands a certain amount of high-quality riffage to keep me on the map non-stop, which is not always the case; if it weren’t for his excellent vocal, and ambiance-texturing qualities painting these tales, I’d probably not be here talking about this album because, in its worst and least memorable moments, Struwwelpeter sounds like many other contemporary raw(ish) BM releases out there, but when the storytelling is supported by deceiving campfire acoustics and wonderfully placed sampling work to create fabulous mental pictures (which happens frequently), the record certainly keeps you hooked and you’ll want to know what’s gonna happen next on a regular basis, especially when some kickass tremolo-picked melodies do appear out of nowhere to whack those craving brain cells from time to time.

If German is not part of your language repertoire, be sure to have the lyrics and a translator with you (!), because Hoffmann’s compositions are indispensable for your aural experience. Definitely don’t get this if you generally consider yourself a casual listener that doesn’t do any deep dives in music. These tracks certainly haven’t been made for streaming music services or devices set on shuffle mode, it’s best to take Struwwelpeter in all at once and have a good and sinister time (dare I say there are a few deliberate humorous bits as well) or you just might not get the hang of it. Definitely worth hearing if given the time and attention.

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