In 2017 new progressive metal band released their debut. Well it was a new band, but it consisted of people associated with Iced Earth, Circe II Circle and White Wizzard, so as such this was in a way an experienced band.
Shortly before the debut Nocturnes and Requiems came out, Witherfall’s drummer Adam Paul Sagan passed away and the follow up A Prelude to Sorrow was a tribute to the man who was one of the founders of this band. Common for both albums was that they were both very strong and prog metal records, which drew inspiration from members’ respective bands, but also the likes of Judas Priest, King Diamond and Nevermore as well as some more modern acts.
The band’s singer Joseph Michael has since accepted the offer to fill vacancy left in Sanctuary after passing of their singer Warrel Dane. Band’s deriving force guitarist Jake Dreyer was busy in Iced Earth and while Witherfall did release some new music we had to wait until now for their third album to see the light of day.
Keeping the consistency when it comes to cover artwork alludes that anno 2021 the band is not set to create something completely different, which taking the class of first two albums into consideration, is essentially good news. On those two releases the band has proved that they are very good at combining very progressive elements with those very heavy ones, while at the same time mastering a catchy melody and the core of songwriting in general.
The case is the same with the new album, which once again delivers well-written songs that are eminently performed. Arrangements are quite logical, but at the same time powerful. Each band member delivers a stellar performance. Michael’s vocals are diverse and ranging the wide spectra and halfway through the album it’s clear why he was chosen to fill mighty Dane’s shoes in Sanctuary. Dreyer’s playing is eminent whether he spits out massive riffs, plays moody passages or guitar leads that despite their technical nature always pack an outstanding melodic quality. Anthony Crawford’ presence in the overall sound is vast and his playing ads more swagger and groove to the music.
On Curse Of Autumn, the tree have teamed up with drummer-extraordinaire Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Kreator, Mute Gods). His versatile qualities have been proven countless time in the past and on this album he’s given a long leash. Sometimes he does loosens the grip on focus and simply takes off, which can be fun, but more often than not, its sole purpose is display his abilities. Fortunately, it happens rarely and for the major part he delivers a great performance that serves the songs and even gives them a welcomed twist.
Album features some of the heaviest material in Witherfall’s career like the blistering “The Other Side Of Fear” as it does the longest song of their career in form of “…And They All Blew Away” which clocks at + 15 minutes. Unfortunately, just like the case was with the some of epics on previous albums, this song is far too long and complex for its own good and the endless line of changes ruin its flow and focus. It comes across too jammy and random despite its overall theatrical approach. Minnemann showcases his technical skills to the max, which in itself is impressive, but in general doesn’t do much good for the song.
As a bonus track the band has included the 4-minute-long radio edit of this song, but it too does it injustice, because while core of the song is in focus and flow is good, there are some eminent parts of this song that are missing from it. One can’t help but think how good this song would have it been at half of its original length.
And while that’s pity, and it does affect the album as a whole, there is so much great on this album that it almost makes up for it. “Another Face” is so gorgeous and cuts like a razor. “Tempest” is not only a lesion in epic modern prog metal and the highlight of album, but perhaps even the finest piece of music Witherfall have recorded to date.
Overall, this is another very good release by the band. Addition of Minnemann to the band is applaudable and his style suits the band and Dreyer in particular. Witherfall manage to keep the quality level high and now that Dreyer has left Iced Earth following the legal troubles facing band’s leader Jon Schaffer, it’s fair to expect Dreyer will focus more on this band, which will hopefully mean more productivity.