Witherscape - The Northern Sanctuary

Witherscape The Northern Sanctuary cover
The Northern Sanctuary
Century Media Records
You have to really appreciate a guy like Dan Swanö. He’s a busy producer and a bit of an icon for his past contributions to the scene (mainly Edge Of Sanity and Nightingale, but really a ton of others as well) but he still finds the time and energy to pump out his own little projects, one of which is Witherscape and he does so, following very much his own muse, not giving a damn about conventions, genres and the rest.
If you have heard 2013’s “The Inheritance”, the debut of this little “fun on the side project”, you’ll know what to expect. It’s a bit of prog music, with mostly harsh vocals, which also get clean quite often, but also strong guitar/key leads, a bit of an uneasy alliance between prog rock and death metal right on the threshold of both, if there’s even really one, never really giving into one style totally; since even when you think things are sweet and calm, a growl will unsettle you or when you’re all charged up a soft piano will simply pop up and ruin it for you. Swanö manages to make it all sound, quite natural though, which is quite the task, I must admit. Along for the ride is Ragner Widerberg and together they share, well everything that’s recorded pretty much and there’s quite a lot of stuff going on.
There are more than a few excellent moments here like the titanic opener “Wake of Infinity”. “In the Eyes of Idols” treads the fine line, mostly deathly in vibe, but unbelievably catchy and melodic at the same time and “Rapture Ballet” that follows manages to invert the formula, but make it work all the same, while still having harsh vocals. “The Examiner”, “Marionette” or the long winded by superb title track, are all great moments in an album that you’ll have to search long and carefully to find any flaws with and you’d still come up pretty much empty handed.
Swan-fans, you know that you have to indulge, while for the rest if you like your death metal with an extra melodic side, this is right up your alley.