‘There was nothing fun about recording this record’. A statement that is all but reassuring regarding the quality of a release, but a statement thrown out there by Joseph Michael, singer and lyricist of melodic dark metal band Witherfall neverhteless. And with good reason, but rest assured that the only way in which the lack of fun influenced the quality of this particular release is nothing but positive. This sounds kind of contradictory, I know, but I will explain of course. Being formed in 2013 the band had a more than promising start, releasing their first full-length called Nocturnes and Requiems in 2017, a self-release that received stunningly good critics. However, the success was vastly overshadowed by the death of drummer, band member and, first and foremost, friend and brother Adam Paul Sagan, who sadly succumbed to lymphoma in 2016, still before their maiden release. Needless to say this had and still has a huge impact on the band, calling their first album a tribute to their comrade Paul. Already working on their next release during his death, the oppressing burden of being in mourning for a loved one heavily influenced both the atmosphere as well as the lyrical themes of it. This album too is considered a tribute as well as a celebration to Paul by the band, they even conjured up a title that is built on his initials: A Prelude to Sorrow. Drawing strength and inspiration from their grief, the remaining members of Witherfall, Anthony Crawford on bass, Jake Dreyer on guitar, Joseph Michael as vocalist and on keys and Fili Bibiano on guitar, went on to create their next masterpiece, while Steve Bolognese falls the tough task of filling Paul’s spot.
And boy, did they nail it! A Prelude to Sorrow strongly displays the power of grief, offering 10 songs, together spanning almost an hour, in all of which you can actually feel the pain and sorrow. Grievous, burdening, heavy, oppressing, all these elements are clearly present in Witherfall’s music, but subtle and afar as it may be, here and there a glimmer of brightness, hope if you will, shines through. But even when leaving the tragedy out of the equation there’s no two ways about it: A Prelude to Sorrow is a fantastic album filled with highly varied, dark-edged metal. One I am only going to review as a whole because even though each individual song definitely is well worth listening, this album needs to, no MUST be consumed as such in order to experience its full force. The songs, varying in length from a mere ninety seconds to well over eleven minutes, seamlessly fit together into a vast, impressive, emotional musical experience, almost like a metal opera. And musically it has it all. Whether you’re looking for fiery guitar solos, acoustic parts, ballad work, raging riffs, relentless drumming, humming bass lines, melodic parts or vocals that range from grunt-lite to off the scale power metal screams, you name it, it’s there. Sometimes even all in one song which often spells disaster, but these guys pulled it off by making it sound perfectly organic and in sync. Try, for example, We Are Nothing for size. Even the intro, despite me being all but an intro-lover, makes perfect sense. These guys ticked all the right boxes, making no mistakes in the execution either. So rather than making this a boring two-pager filled with a boat load of superlatives about how great this release is, how good these guys can compose and play and how solidly this album is produced, which is nothing but the truth by the way, I’m going to cut this short into one last line:
Buy Witherfall’s A Prelude to Sorrow, it’s a seriously awesome release you really cannot afford to miss!
Here you can also read part 12 of our Promoting Bands, in which we also mentioned Witherfall.