Witherscape The Inheritance

Witherscape The Inheritance
9
What do you get when you combine two Swedish multi-instrumentalists and one of them is studio wiz/metal mastermind Dan Swanö? Witherscape, Century Media's new two-man progressive metal force. Even without knowing that Witherscape's debut, The Inheritance, is a concept album (devised by Swanö, written by Paul Kuhr, of Novembers Doom), it's easy to pick up on the record's narrative momentum. Starting off heavy, opening track "Mother of the Soul" throws us right into the midst of things, and it's not until lead single "Astrid Falls" that Witherscape step back to lay out the record's full range of extremes. From there, it's straight into brutal catchiness (tapping into Infernal-era Edge of Sanity), an extra dash of epic and some groove-heavy prog. The second half delivers some of the fastest, darkest, harshest and most climactic moments before The Inheritance eventually settles into a delicate piano postscript that brings the saga to a close. If you're not familiar with Swanö's back catalogue, Witherscape's palette of subgenres and persistent shifts in tone and emphasis might come across as offbeat. To a Dan Swanö devotee, the record plays like a musical genius/eccentric encouraged to explore some of his best impulses; it also sounds like Ragnar Widerberg (who handles all guitar and bass here) is more like-minded collaborator than counter-balance. The resulting nine tracks blend classic hard rock and metal with death metal, a range of prog sounds and even something resembling the 19th-century song cycle with such success it's hard to imagine a better metal comeback from Swanö or a more complementary partnership. (Century Media)