Dark melodic metal masters Witherfall have finally entered their fourth official chapter. Each record has been meticulously crafted from color patterns to deep expressions while showcasing their evolution surrounding their current state of the world. The first record, 2017’s Nocturnes and Requiems, gave a powerful introduction with extended freedom and an independent approach. The record ultimately led to their signing with Century Media Records, where 2018’s A Prelude to Sorrow was written about grief, losing late drummer Adam Sagan. The band’s third chapter came during chaos throughout the global pandemic, with 2021’s Curse of Autumn. To say the band has gone through their share of difficulties is an understatement. 2024’s Sounds of The Forgotten takes the band back to their roots, this time under their own independent label, Deathwave Records. With this new approach, vocalist Joseph Michael (Sanctuary), guitarist Jake Dreyer (ex-Iced Earth/Demons & Wizards), and bassist Anthony Crawford have welcomed multi-instrumentalist Gerry Hirschfeld and recruited drummer Marco Minnemann for the recording and later recruited drummer Chris Tsaganeas (Wax Owls) to the fold. With the latest chapter dropping all restrictions, this is their most creative, emotional, and powerful record to date, making them continue to surprise us after each release.

The album opens with “They Will Let You Down,” an angry, aggressive, and melodic track setting the tone with powerful vocals and lyrics like “Embrace the silence because they will let you down.” This song channels horror vibes and 80s influences, featuring dark, melodic beats and standout guitar work. Its freedom of expression and creativity marks a solid return to the band’s roots. Harsh, heavy, and ripping into the next chapter, this track establishes the album’s intensity.

“Where Do I Begin,” previously reviewed as a single, stands out as a beautiful, emotive ballad. Joseph Michael’s vocals pour with emotion, and the song’s 80s influences are meticulously integrated with a modern style. The pacing and breakdowns keep it engaging, with excellent guitar work. Michael and Dreyer’s synergy, along with newer contributions, creates a track filled with raw emotion, darkness, and gothic elements.

“A Lonely Path” serves as an interlude filled with mystery, setting the stage for what’s to come after the impeccable ballad. It hints at a return to the band’s horror influences, transitioning seamlessly into “Insidious.” Released closer to Halloween, this single hinted at the album’s flawless blend of experimentation and signature style. Joseph Michael’s versatile vocals and Jacob Dreyer’s exceptional guitar work are highlights throughout this dark, ruthless, and emotional song pulsating throughout one standout track.

“Ceremony of Fire” kicks off with an enigmatic introduction before shifting into a powerful medley. Lyrics like “Running away from ourselves,” and “Feel safe in our own illusions,” convey hidden messages of loss, end, and destruction. This track features another flawless guitar solo by Dreyer and showcases the band’s top-notch instrumentation. Deep-rooted emotions bleed through the lyrics and music, representing Witherfall at their best.

“Sounds of the Forgotten” is keyboard-heavy and starts slowly but builds with pure emotion. Lyrics like “As the years just spin on by” evoke melancholic sadness and the passage of time, reminding listeners of lost memories. It opens personal wounds, bringing in a fortitude akin to a horrific tropical storm flooding with pain and despair.

“Aftermath,” another dark interlude, sets the stage for the next chapter, hinting at an even darker, hungrier sound that transitions into “When It All Falls Away.” This dark, dynamic track with a heavy 80s vibe includes lyrics like “When we wake up from the lie, we’re dreaming.” Filled with sadness, pain, and musical bliss, the song showcases Witherfall’s ability to execute a well-balanced record of raw emotions and experimental styles.

“Opulent,” a haunting interlude with a unique medley, builds anticipation for something dark, brave, and ambitious. The album concludes with “What Have You Done,” addressing the fallout of rash decisions, likely from the ripple effect from Jon Schaffer’s actions in 2021. This bold track resonates with feelings of betrayal, both personal and universal. As the final track, it closes the album powerfully, reflecting on questioning friendships and career impacts.

With this album, Witherfall has thrown every emotion into a fully conceptualized piece, moving as a three-act theatrical performance, flawlessly executing themes of life, betrayal, anger, and aggression. The band has grown stronger and more commendable, with Joseph Michael’s invigorating vocals and intricate musical medleys setting them apart from contemporary acts. This album is a testament to their evolution, each record marking a new chapter and revealing more of their personal and brave artistry. It’s a true masterpiece, with emotions and vibes that resonate deeply from beginning to end. This is an exhilarating musical journey worth experiencing, showcasing Witherfall’s immaculate execution and unique place in dark melodic music.

Rating: 5/5