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Witherfall - Nocturnes and Requiems

Label: Witherfall Music LLC
Format: CD Download
Released: 2017
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8.5/10

Jake Dreyer is an incredible guitar talent. His neo-classical phrasings, dexterity, voice, and technique are at a level unattainable for most humans. Dreyer's best-known previous acts were Iced Earth and White Wizzard, but since 2013, he's been the lead guitarist with Witherfall. The music on their 2017 release, "Nocturnes and Requiems," is consciously aware of his super powers, and often serves as a platform to showcase his incredible ability. I know what you may be thinking now, but rest assured, he's NOT a vanity shredder, boring you to death with blistering, tedious displays of speed and GIT-101 scales-runs. He doesn't present as a vain show-off, but as a maximum-capability elite performer who's driven, maybe even compelled, to play the coolest shit possible on his guitar.

This is where the Nevermore comparisons will begin.


His ability and style are strongly reminiscent of Jeff Loomis, guitarist-extraordinaire of numerous projects, who made his name with Nevermore. Like Loomis, Dreyer's rhythm guitar passages are just as interesting and nearly as complex as his leads. Singer Joseph Michael's vocal and lyrical approaches both bear some similarities to those of Warrell Dane, which only serves to strengthen the Nevermore parallels. The heaviness and overall Power/Thrashy genre of both bands would be a very close match. There are also occasional similarities to Trivium, Testament, and Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Witherfall are their own band, however, and it would be a lazy disservice to portray them as copycats of anyone. Dreyer's hunger for playing, along with his aversion to rote, phoned-in guitar playing, keep every moment of "Nocturnes and Requiems" fresh- sounding and intriguing to the listener.
I've talked him up as the resident superstar here, but Michael also deserves credit for holding his own, instilling the vocals with personality, without getting too hammy. Anthony Crawford delivers on bass, if he's a bit buried in the mix. Adam Sagan brings tremendous athleticism and creativity to the drums, which enhance the power and technical artistry of each track. Tragically, this is a posthumous release for Sagan, as he passed away in December 2016. He coined the album title, and the band dedicated it to his life. It's a worthy dedication.
Listen to the whole thing, but if you can only get to one track, then A. loosen up your schedule, and B. check out Track 4: "Sacrifice."


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