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Everyone’s (and that means every metalhead with substantial taste) favourite Swedish multi-instrumentalist and producer is back with a shiny new project. Witherscape is a creative collaboration between Dan Swanö and fellow multi-instrumentalist Ragnar Widerberg (and his crazy moustache). Those familiar with Swanö’s previous efforts with Edge of Sanity, Nightingale and Pan.Thy.Monium will have a skeleton of an idea as to what can be expected from Witherscape.
Progressive death metal is the order of the album, echoing the emotive side of Edge of Sanity and Nightingale’s melodic moments. An essence of melancholy is inscribed into the album. Progressive rock and metal sounds ala Porcupine Tree and modern era Opeth can be traced throughout the music more so than its extreme components, particularly concerning the acoustic guitar riffs. Yet death metal riffs are chunky (think Bloodbath) and unforgiving, refreshingly bucking the old school trend in favour of a modern sound that compliments the sharp production. The guitar solos are brimming with emotion following Swanö’s ‘s rough clean vocals and ravenous growls. Keyboards vary considerably, from frosty as on ‘The Math of the Myth’ to inquisitive in a ‘70s prog rock way as heard on ‘Dying for the Sun’.
Largely mid-tempo, when the music builds up, it becomes more noticeable. There is infinite variety on this release and it certainly demands countless listens, like any good prog metal act should. This is a formidable contender for album of the year.