Witherfall - Nocturnes and Requiems
Self-released
Progressive/Power/Heavy Metal
8 songs (47:04)
Release year: 2017
Reviewed by Joel
Surprise of the month
Once in awhile you pick a band cause either the band name or the cover art captures your attention. Before I knew who was in Witherfall(much to my happiness), I decided to give the release a try. I always like reviewing something I have never heard of, and just waiting to hear what I have discovered. With Witherfall, a swansong and memorial to the great Adam Sagan(Circle II Circle and many others) who passed away from cancer. His spirit lives on through the ever moving(emotionally and musically..more on that later) music. Witherfall offers a classically influenced platter of music, combined with progressive and power metal tendencies. Jack Dreyer and Joseph Michael(both formerly of White Wizzard) are two of the biggest highlights(besides Sagan) on the disc. Some may consider the neoclassical parts to be influenced by Yngwie, but I think it is not influenced by him alone. Bits of flamenco/latin inspired acoustic guitar playing, sweeping arpeggios, lightning fast tremolos and scale runs, as well as anything and everything follows guitar wise. The same can be said for Michael's amazing range, he can one minute remind me of Tim Aymar(Pharaoh/Control Denied), Jon Oliva(Savatage of course), and Tim “Ripper” Owens. Though his ability to bounce between all those seamlessly is equally as strong as Dreyers virtuosic guitar playing. With a debut such as this, what can one expect?

With eight songs in which two are interludes and the rest are over six and a half minutes of music. A lot can happen, a lot of music can be heard, and sometimes, more than one listen is needed. Opener, Portrait sets the tone for what is to come(or does it?). The opening double bass drums and brief solo of Dreyer leads to a headbanging yet equal parts melodic and technically main riff, with Michael's soaring vocals. I could easily describe every minute of each song, but the thing is, it would ruin one of the best surprises of 2017 for me. Also the length of this review, would read longer than a short novel. Where Nocturnes and Requiems to me, gains most of its classical influence is in the strong song structures found in What We Are Dying For( the melodic breakdown almost mid way through the song that leads into the spanish/latin guitar playing I mentioned, of which Al Di Meola would be proud) and End Of Time, is where the songs have several sections that are interwoven and somehow stay cohesive. In classical music terms that would be the various parts, start with an idea, while another idea may contrast with it(a counterpoint), then find their way to connect at a different point during the song. Another side of Michaels vocals are the softer parts near the end of, End Of Time. A nearly ten minute juggernaut of a song, this song has atmoshphere, heaviness, technical playing, and most of all melody to go with it. Closer, Nobody Sleeps Here, brings the acoustic guitar back in the beginning. The Aymar reference I made earlier reminds me of him, in the heavier parts of the song. Michael in the slower parts of all the songs on here, prove he is more than just a screamer, and is truly an accomplished vocalist who is capable of using his entire arsenal even if its all used in one song.

This may not be for everyone, whether its the higher pitched vocals at times, or the sheer amount of shredding(air guitarists this will make your fingers hurt!) that may be too much for some, this is easily a dark horse for me, for my top ten at the end of this year. For Adam's memory, I am so happy this found the light of day, for Dreyer(now the newest member of Iced Earth(great choice!), a great way to show the world his sheer virtuosity in his playing, and for Michael, a vocalist with unlimited range and talent, whose previous band's leader(same for Dreyer), obviously could not respect or appreciate the awesomeness these two are together.

Killing Songs :
All 6 songs with vocals
Joel quoted 85 / 100
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