WITHERFALL

A Pre­lude To Sor­row

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Album Reviews -

CEN­TURY ME­DIA

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

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