Back with their third full-length release, Californian act Witherfall return with prog guns blazing on Curse of Autumn (Century Media). Formed in 2013 by former White Wizzard frontman Joseph Michael, former White Wizzard and former Iced Earth guitarist Jake Dreyer, and the incredibly talented, but former, er… Justin Timberlake bassist Anthony Crawford, the band has produced another seriously heavy record that delivers riffs, hooks, and dazzling technicality.
After the intro ‘Deliver Us into the Arms of Eternal Silence’, ‘The Last Scar’ races out of the blocks with purposeful riffs, neoclassical solos, and classic traditional metal vocals. ‘As I Lie Awake’ opens with Crawford channelling the spirit of Steve DiGiorgio before the song hits an unsurprising Iced Earth vibe while ‘Another Face’ sounds like Dreyer’s former band once again, but this time in the shape of a darkly atmospheric power ballad.
One of the album’s many highlights, ‘Tempest’ opens with proggy intent before an angry guitar riff and the drums of Marco Minneman combine with Michael’s vocals to create something akin to Rhapsody of Fire eating a melodic death metal sandwich. The song is punctuated by a superb breakdown that switches effortlessly between progressive, power, and technical death metal making the fairly lengthy cut fly by in moments.
A short, largely acoustic affair, the title track builds to a powerful crescendo before instrumental ‘The Unyielding Grip of Each Passing Day’ takes over with staccato riffs, scales, and solos aplenty. ‘The Other Side of Fear’ is a heavy, fast-paced cut reminiscent of Nevermore while ‘The River’ finds the band back in power ballad territory once again.
Before ‘Long Time (acoustic version)’ closes the album in a quiet and introspective manner, we get the full-on fifteen-minute muso masterclass of ‘…And They All Blew Away’. A monstrous cut for sure but such is the way with ambitious pieces like these, some parts work better than others, the song occasionally meandering rather than pushing itself forward.
A polished exceptionally played and technically adept piece of work, Curse of Autumn hits all the right notes although certain passages do occasionally feel a little self-indulgent. Then again, excess and pomposity are all part of the majesty of prog so just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Buy the album here: https://witherfallband.lnk.to/CurseOfAutumnID