With Witherfall, we could be witnessing the birth of a great new progressive metal band. If anything, their debut album, Nocturnes And Requiems shows an abundance of inspiration, creativity, and talent, and so a promising future. Witherfall was created by guitarist Jake Dreyer (Iced Earth, Kobra And The Lotus, White Wizzard), singer Joseph Michael (White Wizzard) and the late Adam Sagan (Circle II Circle, Into Eternity). Sagan, who came up with the album title, lost a year long battle to T-Cell Lymphoblast Lymphoma, a form of cancer, in December of 2016. His fellow band members have dedicated the album to him.
Having listened to Nocturnes And Requiems several times, I felt a bit puzzled about what to say about. I'm not talking about writer's block, but something akin to the proverbial "lack of words" to say, or write, in my case. In one sense, that became a good thing because, reflecting upon my dilemma, I discovered that it meant that I was rather impressed with Witherfall, even taken aback by the level of creativity and talent inherent within.
There's much to mention and much to enjoy about this album. One is the terrific guitar work from Dreyer. You might call this a very guitar-centered album, with his riffs abundant and raging, his solos blazing. Yet the pleasure of his guitar composition comes more in the variety of guitar parts. Like the more traditional solo in the center of What We Are Dying For which transforms into this mesmerizing acoustic classical guitar solo. Then there's the conclusion of Portrait with Dreyer's melancholy and mysterious fret lingering over steady bass and drums. Or consider Nobody Sleeps Here where you find another flaring neo-classical line in the center, then again later the same, but juxtaposed with that same somber melancholy heard earlier in the album. Needless to say, Dreyer has the inspiration and talent for fine guitar work.
Another fine aspect about the album is the depth of the arrangements. Obviously, as mentioned above, the guitar parts are featured. Then there's plentiful amount of tempo and time signature wizardry to keep you engaged. Generally, the album as whole is a mixture of traditional heavy and power metal given the progressive metal twist. Songs like What We Are Dying For, Sacrifice, or End Of Time can be quite raging to start. But they also have moments of juxtaposed of softness, often with vocals as within End Of Time. Nobody Sleeps Here sways like that as well, with voice over lighter guitar and drums, then to rage over more heaviness and bluster. Speaking to the vocals, knowing Joseph Michael from previous work, he has some skill and versatility, from raging metal to more gentle and somber melodic lines. The latter is masterfully displayed within The Great Awakening and its choral finish.
Fundamentally, thanks to its many layers and textures, especially in the guitar parts and depth of arrangements, Witherfall's Nocturnes And Requiems is intriguing and enjoyable, even inspired, possibly to be called "thinking man's," progressive metal. Quite recommended.
Thanks to its many layers and textures, especially in the guitar parts and depth of arrangements, Witherfall's Nocturnes And Requiems is intriguing and enjoyable, even inspired, possibly to be called "thinking man's," progressive metal. Quite recommended.
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