Saturday, September 7, 2013

Witherscape - The Inheritance

You’ve probably been seeing this album cover on some pretty big metal zines and websites. Well, the reason behind all of this publicity is somewhat obvious when you learn that Dan Swano, the mastermind behind the progressive death band Edge of Sanity takes up ½ of Witherscape’s lineup. Of course, progressive death superfans are going to be jumping all over this new project, eager to hear what Dan has unleashed this time. I should probably start this review with a disclaimer that there isn’t really anything progressive about Witherscape; it’s just good old fashioned melodic death. The only reason everyone seems to be labeling this duet as a progressive band is because of Dan Swano’s reputation for being a progressive and forward-thinking musician. But regardless of what the intention was with Witherscape, we have a melodic death record on our hands. But not being innovative and progressive is never a bad thing. There’s always possibility that these two fuckers have created something awesome for us.

But, like every new band, there’s room for disappointment. And although Witherscape doesn’t exactly disappoint me, they do confuse the hell out of me. I can see what they were trying to obtain with this, but it sounds like they didn’t spend enough time on this. Everything just sounds choppy. You can hear that they’re doing sort of an Amorphis type of thing, except with more death metal and less power metal. So I guess a better way to put it would be Scar Symmetry without all the keyboards and electronics. The lack of transitions throughout the record makes the whole thing sound terribly rushed, which is a shame because they really nailed the death metal parts. Most of the time, there aren’t any transitions at all that can be heard. And when they’re actually present, they’re VERY sloppy and don’t do their job.

The second issue that I’m having with these guys is that the instrumentation doesn’t match up. Dan is a vocal MASTER, I have to make sure that point is made, because he really is one of the best extreme metal vocalists out there, especially with growling. His growling is VERY powerful, and his singing, although not perfect, has A LOT of energy. His singing actually reminds me of Symphony X when their singer is putting all of his energy into what he’s doing. So Dan is doing all the vocals, drums, and background keyboard stuff that you almost never hear. This other guy, Mr. Widerberg, is doing all of the guitars and bass. Although he is good at what he does, he COMPLETELY fails at creating enough energy to create a proper backing to Dan’s vocals. It sounds REALLY bad. The energy of the music is way too small for the power of Dan’s vocals. An example of a band that is very good at making the energy of the music match up with the vocals would be Amorphis. Aside from the complexity of their songs, the overall music itself is VERY powerful and does an excellent job of backing up Tomi’s growls and epic singing. If the music had a shitload more energy, this would sound a hell of a lot fucking better than it does now. Although the transitions issue throws the listener off, it’s this contrast in energy between the two members that really fucks with your head (not in the good way).

This album sounds pretty rushed in general, and it’s apparent that a lot of other people are hearing it too. If these two guys decide to continue Witherscape, I would be interested in hearing what they do to evolve their sound because this has A LOT of room for much-needed improvement. The moods on this album clash, the energy between the two members never matches up, the transitions are sloppy, and the overall composition sounds weak. But those aside, the individual members themselves are fantastic and have a lot of potential. And, to be honest, Witherscape in general was a great idea because if they work on the issues The Inheritance has, they would literally be unstoppable. So these guys have laid down a weak base, but if they put a lot of extra work into their next release, we could have something very big coming our way. But for now, The Inheritance gets a 7/20 score and I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone unless they were a hardcore melodic death fan.