Here’s one for all you guitar lovers. Witherfall is a band showcasing the fretboard gymnastics of Jake Dreyer, currently the lead guitarist for Iced Earth. He is joined by former White Wizzard vocalist Joseph Michael, virtuoso bassist Anthony Crawford and prolific drummer Adam Sagan, who finished his contributions to Witherfall’s debut prior to his tragic death in 2016. Nocturnes and Requiems is a record worthy of Dreyer’s talents and Sagan’s legacy, a technically accomplished journey into the realms of beauty and despair.
Witherfall offers up a tasteful blend of dark progressive metal, drawing inspiration from a range of sources. Dreyer’s neoclassical riff construction is reminiscent of Helstar or Symphony X, but he also throws in the trilling strings of the later Death and the familiar pedal point harmonics of Gothenburg thrash. Cleaner sections and interludes echo the high-speed fusion of Al Di Meola and the Flamenco noodling of Paco de Lucía. Vocally, Nocturnes and Requiems is firmly rooted in the 1980’s style of heavy metal. Especially on songs like “What We Are Dying For” and “Sacrifice”, I detect the influence of air raid sirens such as Bruce Dickinson and the late Midnight (of the legendary Crimson Glory).
Most of the album’s 47-minute runtime is made up of a few longer compositions. Each strikes a balance between technical flash, dark atmosphere and catchy hooks, but none do it as well as “End of Time”. For nine and a half minutes, the Californian foursome pull out all the stops. It starts with a flourishing introduction that gives Yngwie Malmsteen a run for his money. An acoustic section follows, in which Michael display his mellower side. Afterwards, the song really explodes. Light-fingered arpeggio’s, thrashing riffs and Halfordesque vocals build towards a melodramatic chorus, which may be the highlight of the entire record. Halfway through, we hear a wonderful collection of moody riffs before the track unwinds in almost symmetrical fashion.
All things considered, Witherfall has created an enjoyable first record, with songs ranging from good to great. Dreyer is a highly talented guitarist, who knows how to infuse his songs with dynamic moods. The album is a bit uneven in terms of memorability, but that’s nothing that cannot be corrected on a second outing. Regardless of future developments, Nocturnes and Requiems deserves your full attention.
Release Date : October 6th, 2017
Label : Century Media
Track List :
2. What We Are Dying For
3. Act II
5. The Great Awakening
6. End of Time
8. Nobody Sleeps Here…