Witherfall – A Prelude to Sorrow

In 2017, a little album came out of nowhere and knocked my socks off with its technical approach to power metal. WItherfall dropped Nocturnes and Requiems, a compelling mix of progressive, power and even neoclassical metal, all with a dark, haunting undertone pinning it all together.

Having lost their original drummer to tragedy in 2016, the band released that album posthumously. It was replete with powerful vocals, stunning guitar work, and a melancholic attitude that impressed me. However, for some reason, it didn’t really click with me, and while I found it impressive in many ways, I didn’t find myself coming back to it that often.

However, just one year later, Witherfall dropped A Prelude to Sorrow, follow up to their debut. It would be easy to be worried about a second album coming so quickly after the debut, however, given that Nocturnes and Requiems had actually been finished some time before release, and my fears were assuaged. Some.

And then I listened to A Prelude to Sorrow.

Not much had changed, but for some reason, this album instantly clicked with me. I found myself listening over and over again. The same elements were present, yet something about them this time around spoke to me. Subsequently returning to Nocturnes and Requiems has revealed it to be an album I really love as well.

The dark atmosphere that permeates A Prelude to Sorrow is the key in making it enjoyable for me. It harkens back to the gone, but never forgotten, Nevermore. Sure, there are elements of power metal here, but the standard cheese is exchanged for melancholy and darkness. That instantly improves the album in my estimation.

Lyrically, this isn’t happy go lucky fair. Take these lines from first proper track, “We Are Nothing”:

We are nothing

Our souls are just flickering lights

To be extinguished,

Snuffed out by the cold hands of time.

Or how about these words from “Ode to Despair”?

Sometimes mirrors only show

What we want to see

And we’ll fall into despair

And we’ll get no reprieve

As we descend further down

You see what you want to see

In our ode to despair

And we’ll get no reprieve

In our ode to despair

Time just slips away

Still, these are all things we have felt, and I find the expression of said sentiments to be cathartic. There is something to be said in expressing these thoughts and feelings. Perhaps that is why I find this album somewhat therapeutic to listen to.

And musically, this is an impressive album. The guitars are technical, driving, powerful, while still emoting. The vocals are equally powerful. There are high falsettos, lower register vocals with some grit to them, but always tastefully done, executed with the utmost skill. Really, every member is excellent, with the rhythm section being more than up to the task of carrying the weight of these songs.

The best part for me, I gained an entire new appreciation for Nocturnes and Requiems after really falling in love with A Prelude to Sorrow. Witherfall has proven themselves to be one of the most promising and talented prog/power bands, and I look forward to more from them.

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