So what happens when you cross Amon Amarth with Germans and The Usborne Big Book Of Progressive Time Signatures? Well, besides the world ending, the horsemen descending from a firey sky to wreak havoc on us all, you'd have Words Of Farewell.
Let me clarify the comparison. Words Of Farewell sit almost on their own in the progressive death Metal bracket, especially since Opeth went full on prog. Hailing from Germany, they fuse the heavy handed, well, heaviness of Amon Amarth with a decidedly progressive attitude to arrangement and rhythm, so what you're left with is a very chunky (most likely beardy), oddly metered death prog band. It's certainly a strange mix, I'll give them that, but in their own special way, they manage to pull it off. Quite well in fact.
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Their debut album, 'Immersion' was released this year and what a cracker it is. Quite sensibly, the band haven't over egged any part of their unique sound. In equal parts you get heavy riffing, melodic lead work, interesting keyboards and complex ployrhythms.
The underlining constant to the different sides of the band is the constant manly growl of vocalist Alexander Otto. Like Amon Amarth's vocalist, he somehow manages to growl melodically, take for instance the chorus of 'End Of Transmission', you know he's not 'singing' per se, but it somehow manages to sound in key. It's quite baffling how he manages it, but I'm not one to complain, because it most definitely works.
WoF are keen to shake things up a bit, throwing Dream Theater style riffs in occasionally to take the listener off guard, such as the opener for 'On Second Thought'. Henrik Tschierschky and Erik Gaßmus clearly had plenty of fun with that. There's even some tasty guitar solos for the guitar geeks out there. There's a quite brilliant dual harmonised effort in 'Project: Daybreak', helping to build the middle section of the song up to it's, frankly, quite epic climax.
As the album continues, WoF keep throwing different elements into the mix. There's the keyboard based interlude 'Auriga', then the heavy/ambient/heavy 'The Great Escape'. The addition of keyboard player Leo Wichmann gives WoF an extra texture their contemporaries lack. In fact, 'The Great Escape' lets Wichmann cut loose with a Firewind style keyboard solo, which is definitely something I was not expecting. However, it all helps to stop the album becoming repetitive.
Towards the album's closing end, the delightfully chunky 'Sorae' rears it's head. 'Sorae' has been used for the lat year or so across all manner of website, blog and what have you to help promote the album. If I'm honest, I'm not sure why they picked that song as, while I like it, it's not the strongest on the album. For me, that accolade would go to either 'On Second Thought' or the truly massive 'Vagrant Story'.
In fact the latter track has the highest concentration of different elements in one song on this album. It has acoustic passages, high paced pedal tone riffing, epic chorus, massive keyboards and a shred-tastic guitar solo. Seriously, it's good stuff.
As the album closes with 'Sundown Serenade', the full progressive might of WoF kicks in. Huge shifts in rhythm, tone, tempo and texture occur throughout the 6:46 running time. Otto even sings, wait for it... clean! Its a killer closing track which sums up this most interesting of bands.
'Immersion' has been a long time in the making for Words Of Farewell, but as debut albums go, it's one of the most accomplished I've heard from a band that's only five years old. Whether you like it heavy, epic or complicated, there is something for you on this album. It's slick, well executed, catchy, well worth a tenner of anybody's money but more than anything, it's bloody good.
1. Project: Daybreak
2. Ever After
3. End Of Transmission
4. On Second Thought
6. The Great Escape
7. Urban Panorama
9. Vagrant Story
10. Sundown Serenade