Few bands find themselves in the tragic situation of losing a member before their debut album. However, that’s the unfortunate case for Witherfall with the release of Nocturnes And Requiems. Drummer Adam Sagan passed away early December during the final stages of production, but the end product turned out to be a masterpiece.
The record begins with Portrait, which is a good precursor for the rest of Nocturnes And Requiems. It’s a mesmerizing balance between energetic and calm with Witherfall seamlessly transitioning from one to other. The whole record is filled with peaks and valleys. One moment you’ll be listening to one of the many melodic choruses and then the song will slow it down with acoustic guitars, which will gradually pick up the pace to the original riff, like in What We Are Dying For and Sacrifice. Each song flows so well, you’ll keep forgetting what track you’re on.
Witherfall labels themselves as a dark melodic metal band, which is true, but they also incorporate a fair amount of old-school thrash and Joseph Michael’s voice only further cements that feeling. He’ll hit those Halford-like high notes when the song is heavy and switch to a more somber tone when the song calms down.
The musicianship doesn’t slouch either. Sagan’s drumming and percussion are masterfully done and set the foundation for the entire album. But if you like guitar solos, Nocturnes And Requiems has you covered from more traditional metal guitar solos to one of the many acoustic solos.
However, this album is fantastic because of how well-composed and produced it is. Every aspect from the vocals, instruments and lyrics comes together splendidly to create an eerie, yet exciting atmosphere, like in Nobody Sleeps Here. Each song is a story part of a larger journey that makes up the entirety of the record.
It would have been nicer if Nocturnes And Requiems was a bit longer since it’s only an eight-track record coming a little under 50 minutes (which is by no means short, but two of the songs are shorter intermissions). But it was probably a smart move by Witherfall to keep the album tight at the risk of disturbing its phenomenal flow.
If you’re a fan of metal, listen to this album. It truly is a journey that fans of the genre should experience.