Review: “Curse of Autumn” by Witherfall

2017’s “Nocturnes and Requiems” was a take on Stephen King’s “Nightmares & Dreamscape” and 2018’s “A Prelude to Sorrow” was an orchestrated requiem to former drummer Adam Sagan, may he rest in peace, but with “Curse of Autumn“, Los Angeles Californians Witherfall wanted to out do themselves. So vocalist and keyboardist Joseph Michael (Sanctuary), guitarist Jake Dreyer (Iced Earth), bassist Anthony Crawford (Chon) and drummer Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats) spent two years writing and perfecting before hiring some supreme talent to assist them. Jon Schaffer (Demons & Wizards, Iced Earth) was brought on to helm the production duties, while Jim Morris (Savatage, Death) was sourced to engineer and mix at Independence Hall and Morrisound Recordings, respectively. The duo then enlisted Bradley Cook (Slash, Foo Fighters, Chris Cornell) to track the drums at Doghouse Studios. To master, Witherfall appointed Tom Morris (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) to master at Morrisound Recording…

…and the result of that is classic Metal album in every sense of the traditional word. Classic 80’s Thrash influences are at the heart of “The Last Scar” which sees blistering fretboard magic from Dreyer while Michael’s vocal range is simply incredible as he sings and screams his way through the heart felt lyrics. Longer instrumental passages give the band a chance to shine while never reaching the point of virtuoso for the sake of it, that balance perfectly found and left hanging on a knife edge. Then you have “As I Lie Awake” which has Classic Hard Rock influences which shine through from bands like Rainbow and Deep Purple with melodic leads and touches of heavier moments in the rhythm section as the band create a sing-a-long anthem that other bands would sell their collective souls for. Then you have “Another Face” which has some Brian May inspired guitar moments as well as bursts of jackhammer footwork from Minnemann that could rattle any cage and give a few Death Metal drummers a run for their money. The flamenco acoustic guitar work of “Tempest” is spellbinding before building into heavier and more driven riffage to accompany Michael’s story telling abilities which are second to none. There is a certain sense of majesty with all that Witherfall do here, no corners have been cut, no edges not smoothed, no stone left unturned, go hard or go home.

Two shorter pieces in the title track and “The Unyielding Grip Of Each Passing Day” sandwich the middle of the record together, the first an almost poetic piece the second an instrumental with a melancholic undercurrent that shows off the bands musical talents without any vocals, simply letting fly with pomp and circumstance and each one is stunning for separate reasons. There are hints at early Metallica with some of the riffs of “The Other Side Of Fear” but in truth there are so many riff ideas that there may always be some subliminal stray from the path into some influence. There is a real longevity here and a timelessness that appeals to both older and younger generations of Metal Heads that you might not expect when opening this book and when the highly emotional “The River” sweeps through it is captivating. A song about singer Joseph Michael’s deceased father, referring to the family fishing spot up near Thousand Islands by the Canadian border of New York State, it is one that has an extra depth to it that makes it really stand out as a fitting tribute [8/10]

Track listing

  1. Deliver Us Into The Arms Of Eternal Silence (00:50)
  2. The Last Scar (04:56)
  3. As I Lie Awake (05:33)
  4. Another Face (05:34)
  5. Tempest (08:17)
  6. Curse Of Autumn (01:26)
  7. The Unyielding Grip Of Each Passing Day (02:44)
  8. The Other Side Of Fear (04:38)
  9. The River (03:11)
  10. … And They All Blew Away (15:24)
  11. Long Time (Acoustic Version) (03:35)

Curse of Autumn” by Witherfall is out 5th March 2021 via Century Media

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