As if 2017’s Nocturnes and Requiems wasn’t dark enough, Witherfall goes even further on their second full-length album, A Prelude to Sorrow. “We Are Nothing” quickly establishes a noticeably grittier tone as the guitars have a muddy, bottom heavy crunch while harsher vocals are occasionally mixed in with the high screams and melodic wails. Thankfully the band’s acoustic tendencies are still around to provide solid contrast though even those segments are more ominous.
Despite this almost claustrophobic approach, the band never strays from their core power-prog style. Like the debut before it, a haunting, conceptual vibe can be felt throughout and just about every track is a multi-faceted journey with extensive dynamic excursions. The expanded band lineup may have resulted in even more elaborate structures, but there’s enough climactic ebb and flow to keep these pieces from feeling too nonlinear or self-indulgent.
But with this in mind, A Prelude of Sorrow may be less accessible than Nocturnes and Requiems. The performances are excellent and there was clearly effort put into the songwriting, but the vocal lines and driving tempos aren’t quite as memorable this time around. The production may also play a role in this album being trickier to get into, but it’s a grower either way.
Witherfall’s second full-length album kinda reminds me of Dream Theater’s Awake. It’s a darker effort with a more aggressive execution that makes it more challenging to get a feel for, but there’s enough pathos to warrant further listens. It’s somehow even more of an acquired taste than the debut, but I can imagine certain fans enjoying this one more due to these more esoteric developments. Either way, it’s nice to see Witherfall making progress and prog metal listeners should try it out.
“Communion of the Wicked”
“Ode to Despair”
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