Witherscape – The New Tomorrow (Century Media)

Sunday, 30th November 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

The atmospheric/progressive oriented metal act Witherscape containing guitarist/bassist Ragnar Widerberg and the ubiquitous vocalist/keyboardist/drummer Dan Swanö unleash what many in the business would term a ‘stop-gap’ EP following their critically revered debut album The Inheritance from last year. Lest you think this is a release only for the ardent collectors, The New Tomorrow consists of a brand new track in the title cut, 3 cover tracks, and an extension song from the previous record’s “Dead For a Day” appropriately called “Dead For Another Day”.

The opener has a killer, almost folk texture to the chord choices at the start before plunging head first into more of a light progressive metal juggling act, as soft and heavy parts intermingle against the clean, majestic voice of Mr. Swanö. Ragnar just knows when to turn the arrangement into the perfect signature change, adding in potent bass lines and a thematically on target lead break to keep your ears engaged. The closing “Dead For Another Day” has that older, emotional guitar/keyboard segment before again turning into another moving chorus, the acoustic picking building against the melodies as the drums pulsate in a steady march.

What makes The New Tomorrow essential is the three particular cover choices from Witherscape. It’s well documented that Dan and Ragnar are avid fans of all types of hard rock and metal – but to pick out “Defenders of Creation” from 80’s traditional band Warrior, “Out in the Cold” from Judas Priest’s synth-laden, futuristic Turbo and “A World Without Heroes”, which came from the much maligned The Elder Kiss days shows their boldness in the face of much more obvious choices. Deeper cuts that develop into serious tributes, adding in occasional keyboard nuances and darker/heavier textures to illuminate the diamonds possibly cast aside in the rough.

So this is more of a left-field adventure rather than a pause before the second Witherscape album takes ahold of our brains hopefully in 2015. Genius in a multitude of progressive rock, death, and metal fields, Dan Swanö continually excels because of setting benchmarks rather than chasing the trend trails – for that reason alone, The New Tomorrow provides excellent value in a tidy 23 minutes.

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