Witherfall is a U.S. based progressive power metal band featuring guitarist Jake Dreyer (Iced Earth, Kobra and the Lotus, White Wizzard), singer Joseph Michael (White Wizzard), and the late Adam Sagan (Circle II Circle, Into Eternity) on drums. The recording line up on their debut album features bassist Anthony Crawford (Allan Holdsworth, Virgil Donati). Witherfall was formed in 2013, and the self-produced album, Nocturnes and Requiems, was mized and mastered by Chris “Zeuss” Harris (Rob Zombie, Queensrÿche, Hatebreed).
Witherfall perform a unique blend of dark, melancholy melodic power metal with progressive and neo-classical influences. The band combines their love for bands such as King Diamond, Symphony X, Nevermore, and Savatage with neo-classical guitar shredders such as Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, and Yngwie Malmsteen to create a sound that is all their own.
The album kicks off with the King Diamond meets Nevermore metal fury of Portrait. The instrumentation is flawless and intricately performed and Joseph Michael’s vocals have a dark, moody, and theatrical approach similar to King Diamond (without the falsetto). Sagan’s drumwork is amazing and makes you appreciate the talent of a young drummer who was tragically taken away from this world too soon. Sagan’s power and chops are on full display on the intro to the fast and furious at What Are We Dying For? The song also features some incredible Spanish flamenco syle acoustic guitar work from Dreyer, who, for those that are unaware, was recently tapped as the new second guitarist for Iced Earth, so that alone should tell you the incredible talent of this axe shredder.
The brief instrumental intro of Act II leads into the riff heavy Sacrifice. Michael’s vocals are powerful and melodic with some strong upper register work. The song features some intense guitar shredding and a Nevermore vibe.
The Great Awakening is a somber and melancholy ballad with chilling and dark vocals from Joseph Michael and a blend of acoustic and clean guitars. The song has a Crimson Glory-esque feel to it. The band comes roaring back on the neo-classical shred of End of Time. Sagan’s swift and technical drumwork is awe-inspiring as is the guitar work. Michael’s warm vocal tones paint a perfect tapestry that fit the somber song perfectly. Switching from a soft melodic tone, to gritty, and soaring high notes. Sagan’s thunderous drums kick the song into high gear with some stellar double bass drumming and chunky guitar rhythms.
After the dark intro of Finale, the last track, Nobody Sleeps Here, which deftly balances between full on neo-classical shred, power metal, and progressive metal with ease. Joseph Michael’s vocals run the gamut between melodic, aggressive, and upper register screams. The harmony vocals remind me of classic King Diamond as well. The neo-classical guitar work by Dreyer is of course, stunning and powerful. The song ends with a melodic outro solo layered with the soft strains of acoustic guitar.
Witherfall is a band that seemingly came out of nowhere and released one of the most expertly composed and instrumentally flawless debut albums that I have heard in some time. One can only hope that the band carry on as a tribute to the late Adam Sagan, to continue his legacy on what was his last recorded performance.