Album Review: WITHERSCAPE The Inheritance
"The…story takes place in a remote village in northern Sweden in the late 1800's. The central character lives in Stockholm and comes from wealth, and upon the death of his family he's informed by the family lawyer that he has inherited a large estate up north. Having been oblivious to the estate's existence, he decides to investigate, and once he's there "all kinds of weird shit happens…"
From Dan Swanö on Witherscape's Century Media Page
Progressive concept albums are not for everybody, and demand a lot of patience from the listener. Studio man Dan Swanö and musician Ragnar Widerberg certainly had their work cut out for them here in trying to make a compelling release with their new band Witherscape. The record can be thought of as a death-metal revision of the "prog" legacy of bands like Rush, King Crimson, and maybe even Savatage, though not as cheesy of course. This puts them in the company of many younger bands of course, The Ocean being the first one I'd thought of when I heard The Inheritance. And with the band's habit of traveling from one musical mood to another, they cannot help but face the Opeth comparison as well.
Concept albums often run two risks: being so intellectually charged that it alienates anyone without a graduate degree, or being so laughably corny that only people who go to bookstores solely to buy Dragonlance novels will want to listen to it. Thankfully, Witherscape has crafted The Inheritance in such a way that it avoids both of these traps while still remaining focused. Songs like "Mother of the Soul" and "Dying for the Sun" ride multiple lines between death metal and progressive rock, between progressive rock and traditional hard rock, all with a little synth mixed in. One clear advantage the band has is Dan's voice, which while slightly resembling that of The Ocean's vocalist, still is original sounding enough to separate him from most contemporary metal vocalist. His vocal delivery is quite harrowing as well, harkening to the theatrical melodies common of many rock bands of the 1970's (well, the clean vocals at least).
Witherscape are at their best when they let their sound explore but still reel it in enough to let it rock out like on "To the Calling of Blood and Dreams". And though I was initially turned off by the synth-overload on "The Math of the Myth", the rest of the song just kicks so much ass that you just have to embrace how epic it is and how seamlessly it transitions into "Crawling from Validity". I also found the Poe-esque theme quite interesting as well, even if I'm not %100 sure what happens to the album's protagonist (I think he marries a ghost?). If anything, I would suggest the guys get a solid touring outfit together and develop more of a signature sound and they could become one of progressive-metal's biggest names. Maybe turn down the synth a little bit…and play some heavier riffs if you can. Regardless, fans of concept driven prog/death metal will find a lot to enjoy here.
Favorite Songs: "Mother of the Soul", "Dying for the Sun", "To the Calling of Blood and Dreams", "The Math of the Myth"