I’ll be honest and say that I’d not heard of Witherscape prior to this album coming in. When I took a look at it I noticed that Dan Swanö was listed as being on it. If you’re unaware of him then he’s the person who produced Omnium Gatherum’s last album (review here), Insomnium’s upcoming album and was also in the band Edge of Sanity. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with it, but I’m honestly very impressed by it :)
Opening the album is the track “Wake of Infinity”. A ‘slightly’ overused chromatic melody opens the track before the rest of the instruments come in and I got the first idea of what Dan is like as a singer. He’s a lot better than I was expecting and his voice fits with the music really well. Having a much more melodic feel is the track “In The Eyes Of Idols”. Keeping a mid-pace with driving drums and some rather impressive clean vocals really make this a rather different track from the previous.
“Rapture Ballet” is a rather more progressive track the previous two, with moving synth melodies and driving drums and bass throughout the track. This is a stark contrast from the next track, “The Examiner” which opens with a rather calm piano and acoustic guitar duet. The track really shows off Dan’s clean vocals and whilst they are not your traditional style, they fit the overall vibe of the song perfectly.
Entering with a clean guitar based melody and more clean vocals is the track “Marionette”. This calm is all but shattered around the 1:14 mark by a thunderous roar that brings in the rest of the instruments to create a rather reflective piece. The calm then returns after the chorus and another calm and serene verse appears. Once again, the thunderous roar to signal the chorus comes in and takes the song to another atmosphere. A superb guitar solo brings the song to close and I’m left feeling as though a storm has blown through and yet it didn’t destroy anything…
The style shown off earlier in the album returns with the track “Divinity”. Having an almost Opeth like style in parts, the track blends both progressive ideas and death elements to create an altogether unique package of delectable treats. “God Of Ruin” continues in a similar fashion but slows the pace down slightly and drops out to just synths around the 1:36 mark which adds just the right amount of suspense. Heavily reverberant clean vocals cleanly slide into the mix before the calm is shattered at the 2:53 mark and all the instruments make a triumphant return.
Now what can be said about the title track on the album other than wow…. A windup music box opens the track before a multitude of synths and clean guitars come in. Haunting heavily reverberant vocals slide side to side before the other instruments come in and bring the thunder. And as quickly as they appeared they subside and give way to a whispered section. All hopes of this being a calm song are shattered around the 3:04 mark when the rest of the instruments reappear like a thunderous ton of bricks. Another calm section with clean vocals and acoustic guitars appear at the 4:30 mark before the instruments reappear in a calm and collected manner. Honestly, so much goes on in this song that it’s hard to note everything but it’s honestly on my favourite tracks on the album.
Finishing the album off is the track “Vila I Frid” which is Swedish for Rest In Peace. An aptly titled track as it features a single piano melody for the song. Having just the piano brings this varied album to a close in a calm and reflected way which is often forgotten in many modern albums…
This review has been more of a train of thoughts rather than an overall structured review. That’s merely because I find it hard to put into words how spectacular this album is at points. It’s as if they’ve taken the best bits from all the melo-death/progressive albums that have been released and compiled them all together into this album. The result is at points, breathtaking. So, Mr Widerberg and Mr Swanö… You’ve done a cracking job and I hope that you continue to make superb albums like this one :) Plus, you have some hilarious promo photos! :P
Standout tracks: In The Eyes Of Idols, The Examiner, Marionette, The Northern Sanctuary