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Witherfall - The Curse of Autumn

Label: Century Media Records
Format: Download
Released: 2021
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8.5/10

Witherfall have filled a space at the hub of Metal’s wheel, spinning the spokes of Traditional, Melodic, and Heavy around them. Across 5 years of existence, a bunch of small releases, and three full-length albums, they’ve established themselves as one of the engines propelling that wheel into Metal’s future. They’ve consistently delivered high-quality songs, but they almost feel besides-the-point. The experience of Witherfall is akin to witnessing a great, friendly, collaborative competition of titans; two massive personalities in marriage, conflict, and unified purpose.


I’m talking, of course, about Joseph Michael’s vocals and Jake Dreyer’s masterful guitarwork. They duel in our speakers in the best ways, reminiscent of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, and Warrell Dane and Jeff Loomis. If Warrell Dane was the William Shatner of Metal vocalists, then Joseph Michael is the Adam West. Impossible to dislike, impossible to root against, even - - especially - - in the moments when they indulge in the full ham and cheese show. Joseph Michael is at the vanguard of modern Metal vocals. As for Jake Dreyer, he plays guitar like he was bitten by a radioactive Yngwie. There’s not much more to say. His style is spectacular. He belongs on every list of Metal’s best guitarists. The Jeff Loomis and Warrell Dane comparisons are apt, because Witherfall occupy a similar space as (now defunct) Nevermore at that hub. Michael even filled Dane’s role on a Sanctuary tribute tour, which had at least one guest appearance from Loomis; I think they own that link between bands. Witherfall established this connection with their debut, “Nocturnes and Requiems,” and they do continue it here on 2021’s “Curse of Autumn,” but with some new and interesting pieces added. There are moments of Death, Melodic Death, Power, Prog, and Traditional throughout. Numerous light arpeggio parts recall Queensryche. Also of interest are the numerous starts and stops in the songs. If misplayed, it could really hurt the songs, but it’s a trick that works really well to snap the listener right into the moment. It’s unfair to talk about the major guitar and vocal personalities. Bassist Anthony Crawford is given plenty of room to roam and perform, and the bass is excellent everywhere. And I can’t say enough good things about the drumming of recent addition, Marco Minnemann. He anchors the heaviest stuff as well as the most melodic with dazzling skill, making all of the right choices at every turn. The main thing is the music, though, right? The players do outshine the actual songs a bit, but there are a number of excellent tracks to call out. Opening instrumental “Deliver Us Into The Arms Of Eternal Silence” is short, but leads perfectly into the very good “The Last Scar.” “The Unyielding Grip Of Each Passing Day” is another killer Heavy instrumental that bangs on all cylinders. “The Other Side Of Fear” pummels and slashes, “. . . And They All Blew Away” spends 15 and a half minutes waving its flag as the album’s highest achievement - - and it is a high achievement of a song - - but for my money, “The Tempest” is Witherfall at their best. They utilize a Death Metal atmospheric riff and synth line for the best parts behind Joseph Michael’s mesmerizing pulpit-banging voice. It’s time to give Witherfall their due. “The Curse of Autumn” is Metal history in the making.

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