Witherfall -A Prelude to Sorrow review

Intense, heavy, melodic, progressive and dark metal 7/10Witherfall 6

Formed in 2013, Witherfall is the progression of the combined talents of Jake Dreyer (guitar) and Joseph Michael (vocals) who had previously worked together in White Wizzard joined by Adam Sagan, who had drummed for Dreyer’s solo project and bassist Anthony Crawford. Their debut DIY album Nocturnes and Requiems, was mixed and mastered by Chris ‘Zeuss’ Harris (Rob Zombie, Queensrÿche) to deliver their vision to the public

A Prelude to Sorrow was written over a two year period and is as a continuation of Nocturnes and Requiems, intensely composed by the intrinsic core of Dreyer and Michael. It is a ‘concept’ album of sorts, based upon the tragic loss of friend and former drummer Adam Paul Sagan from lymphoma prior to the release of their debut. The title is an acronym of his name and echoes the peaks, troughs, violence and beauty of the raw and emotional reflections born in the witching hours under the dark comforts of wine and sorrow.

Technically proficient, creative and somewhat eerie with its atmospheric searing guitars and piercing vocals which truly demonstrates the skill of Michael, who performed live with Sanctuary (in tribute to Warrel Dane.) Joined by session drummers Steve Bolognese (ex-Into Eternity) and Gergo Borlai (Al Di Meola), and session guitarist Fili Bibiano the work realised is delivered precisely, but the magic lies in the combination of vocal and guitar. Dramatic and powerful with an intense rhythm section, the production is sublime. Yet, for me it lacks a certain something. Perhaps it is the spectre shaped void of Sagan. It’s heavy, tight, melodic, progressive and dark metal that will either enthral or leave you somewhat nonplussed. Sadly, I fall into the latter camp. Perhaps there are simply too many peaks, for my tiny mind.

Opening with the exquisite A Prelude to Sorrows: haunting vocals combined with acoustic guitar and strings, you believe the tone is set. Then we enter into the thrash domain of We Are Nothing with euphoric vocals and progressive twists of unexpected creativity and cleverness. The opening tracks are perhaps so moving and dramatic, that it’s difficult to follow when you have already undertaken such an emotional odyssey. Moment of Silence is darkly dynamic and Communion of the Wicked grants a brief respite in its introduction from the unrelenting intensity before picking up the pace and  dropping into the ethereal Maridian’s Visitation.

Shadows is a beautifully realised slab of dark, technical melodic metal and you can check out the lyric video here:

It’s melodic, challenging and highly accomplished, but for me it lacks a certain something. This is entirely my unfortunate circumstance. Respectfully I will say that I appreciate the work and it should appeal to fans of Sanctuary, Nevermore, Iced Earth or Fates Warning that love darkly brooding, unrelenting epics. It’s almost claustrophobic in its intensity.  Witherfall, I’m sincerely saddened for your loss and wish you good fortune.

Witherfall A Prelude To Sorrow

A Prelude To Sorrow will be available as ltd. Digipak CD, deluxe gatefold 2LP (with etching on side D) and on all digital platforms

WITHERFALL – A Prelude To Sorrow

  1. A Prelude To Sorrow (1:27)
  2. We Are Nothing (11:12)
  3. Moment Of Silence (6:55)
  4. Communion Of The Wicked (6:40)
  5. Maridian’s Visitation (3:15)
  6. Shadows (7:08)
  7. Ode To Despair (3:49)

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