Album of the Year 2018 – Number 8

Welcome to the latest chapter of my Album of the Year 2018 top 30 countdown. It seems like it was only yesterday that I started this series but it has been three weeks since I began and since then, around 17,000 words has been dedicated to the best music that 2018 has had to offer. No wonder I’m tired and in need of a break! But just eight more albums to go – the best eight of the entire bunch in my opinion.

As always, if you’ve missed any of my previous posts, head down to the bottom of this post to check out the links for numbers 30-9.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the series so far – and here’s the next choice to enjoy…

Number 8:

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Witherfall
‘A Prelude To Sorrow’
Century Media Records
Score of Much Metal: 9.8

There appears to be a trend developing. Or several trends for that matter. In a spooky re-run of my ninth pick, this record is on the Century Media label and is laced in misery and raw emotion. In this instance, Witherfall are still reeling from the death of their drummer and friend Adam Sagan who suffered at the cruel hand of cancer. If you want to extend the trends even further, you could even remark that the result of Witherfall’s grief has also galvanised the band, resulting in the creation of a tremendous album. And, given their lofty placings in this year’s top 30, it is clear that I am a big fan of both.

It is no surprise that I like this record either, because it is a class act from start to finish. The sense of loss permeates the entire record but it is done in a way that means that the music is the real winner. Huge, chunky and heavy riffs alongside a bruising rhythm section lay down a formidable foundation upon which all else is built. From there, the ten compositions weave and dart from all-out aggression to quieter passages, a metaphor for the way in which grief can affect the human mind.

At times there is a violent frustration to the songs, at others, there is a sense of quiet, solemn introspection and then there are the beautifully wrought sections that are almost euphoric as, for a blissful moment, the reality of the situation abates.

I also like the surprising amount of progressive intent that is contained within the album – there is a subtle complexity to proceedings that it almost hidden at first, only to be released upon repeated listens and undivided attention. As such, I have found that this is a record for which my appreciation has not dimmed. It is almost as if I hear something new on every spin or more accurately, I find myself gravitating to a different section of the album each time as if discovering it anew.

Oh and if, like me, you like lead guitar solos, be prepared for a treat, as ‘A Prelude to Sorrow’ contains plenty of these to get your teeth stuck into. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the biggest and best highlights to be heard on the record.

To quote my review of 20 October 2018:

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“As the title of the record confirms, ‘A Prelude To Sorrow’ is not a happy listen. It is intense, moving and almost exclusively dark and often quite morose in tone. The tag ‘dark melodic metal’ has never been more apt as far as I am concerned.

Everything that made the debut, ‘Nocturnes And Requiems’ such a success is present and correct on ‘A Prelude To Sorrow’ but if anything, the quintet have upped the ante even further. Naturally the personal concept and raw human emotion that runs like a rich vein through the ten tracks provide a certain amount of added sincerity and gravitas to the music. However, in my opinion, the honesty has led to the creation of even stronger compositions this time around.

As with the debut, Witherfall demonstrate a large indebtedness to the likes of Nevermore and Symphony X but I am pleased to say that there is a much more unique flavour to the music contained within the ten compositions, something that I hope these guys continue to develop over the coming years.

I can honestly say that this record has moved me more than most this year. Circumstances have conspired to ensure that I am emotionally intertwined with Witherfall and it has made the experience all the more raw and powerful. The fact that the sentiment is wrapped up within some of the most memorable and beautiful heavy metal music makes the experience all the more incredible and rewarding. I implore you listen to ‘A Prelude to Sorrow’ so that you too can share in an album that is as moving as it is memorable, as emotional as it is engaging, as intelligent as it is intimate and that is as heavy lyrically as it is musically.”

Read the full review here.

If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:

Album of the Year 2018 – Number 9
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 13
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30

If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:

Album of the Year 2018 – EPs and Compilations

And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years:

Album of the Year 2017
Album of the Year 2016
Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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