A Prelude To Sorrow
Prog metal’s new breed give their roots a polish
the term ‘prog metal’ now applies to so many different musical strains as to be almost meaningless, but Witherfall are proudly and skilfully taking things back to the genre’s original spirit.
Although never remotely dated or lazily nostalgic, A
Prelude To Sorrow possesses the same exploratory verve that made seminal works by Savatage, Queensrÿche and Crimson Glory so revered and influential three decades ago. It’s almost as if Witherfall are a band from that earlier era, but somehow transported magically into the present day and duly emboldened by the benefits of metal’s 30-year evolution. Singer/keyboard whiz Joseph Michael and guitarist Jake Dreyer have masterminded something genuinely special here: as the opening melodrama of the album’s titular overture leads into the dark, claustrophobic labyrinth of first epic We Are
Nothing, the intensity of everything from Joseph’s multi-octave theatrics to regular on-a-pin’s-head tempo shifts is consistently startling. The album’s other grand monolith, Vintage, is simply dizzying in its structural intricacy and melodic intelligence, but Witherfall’s heaviness is never compromised as a result of these lofty goals. There is as much Symbolic-era Death as there is Savatage grandeur amid the tooth-dislodging attack of these songs’ most brutal moments, and even a pitchblack ballad like Communion Of The Wicked lurches with nefarious, underground-friendly intent. As comfortable with the soulful crunch of the Nevermore-like A Moment
Of Silence, the twinkling restraint of Maridian’s Visitation and the succinct metal bluster of Ode To Despair as they are with their more overtly elaborate material, Witherfall seem to be doing this all by a combination of instinct, virtuosity and wild-eyed passion. The result is an album that flows beautifully but punches hard – echoing, honouring and in many ways equalling the grand classics of prog metal’s first wave in the process.
Witherfall, channelling theresa may, here