Forward thinking, unpredictable, restless and genuinely interesting
Review by Gary Cordwell
Release date: 8 December 2014
At first glance the new EP by Swedish atmospheric prog/death duo Witherscape may seem a bit of a hotch potch – a reworking of an already recorded song, three fairly obscure covers and one new track – but bear with it, there’s a plan afoot! This EP is intended to be a bridge between their 2013 debut album, The Inheritance, and their forthcoming follow up. The new track introduces us to a new storyline and character (the man in white) which will follow through into the new release, due in late 2015.
The track itself is huge in all senses – in sound, scope and ambition, calling to mind the very best of Opeth and Dream Theater. The production is warm and crystal clear and despite a huge riff and a touch of growling, it is mostly melodic and clean. There is a short, slightly baffling Swedish spoken word moment, but fear not, the riff returns and it all bodes well for their sophomore release. And thence on to the covers, which give us an insight more than anything into the bands mindset and search for perfection. The songs were partly chosen because the band like them and partly because, in their opinion “they didn’t necessarily have…the production or performance to portray their full glory” …riiiight, arrogance or OCD?
So, we have ‘Defenders of Creation’ by Warrior, beefed up and shortened with guitar crunch added to a healthy dose of retro keyboard squiggles. ‘A World Without Heroes’ by Kiss is stripped of its strings and re-fitted with sleek AOR guitars, while Judas Priests’ ‘Out In The Cold’ (from their unfairly maligned Turbo album) is much more organic – all the synths have been buried in a shallow grave and replaced with acoustic guitars and a much more contemporary sound. And finally we have Witherscape covering …erm, Witherscape. All of the death and growling has been surgically removed from their 2013 track ‘Dead For A Day’, been replaced with clean vocals and a haunting piano and renamed ‘Dead For Another Day’.
Quite what this all tells us about what to expect next is anybody’s guess but it does tell us a few things. It tells us that Witherscape are not a band to coast or rest on their laurels. They are supremely confident but have the talent to back it up. They have a perfectionist streak a mile wide and have proved themselves with this EP to be forward thinking, unpredictable, restless and a genuinely interesting proposition. This is a real appetite whetter and, judging by the creativity and intelligence on display, it certainly won’t be a “difficult” second album.
8 out of 10
- The New Tomorrow
- Defenders Of Creation
- A World Without Heroes
- Out In The Cold
- Dead For Another Day