I find it kind of funny that a lot of the records I get assigned by Metal Injection these days are prog albums, a genre that I'm honestly not super familiar with. That being said, I like to think that I know great music when I hear it and I absolutely love what Witherscape have done here. It's rare to find a band like Witherscape, who on a single release prove that they are capable of just about anything and everything. There is a certain powerful serendipity to the music, the way that the songs are structured and the band orients their music, jumping from peak to peak and strength to strength. There is an incredible power to what The Northern Sanctuary represents. This is a band who tear your soul apart, showing off a variety of vocal styles, a strong understanding of what the instrument can do, and have a beautiful execution in nearly every aspect of the genre. Sure the songwriting isn't quite there yet, but with prog is it ever?
What gets me about The Northern Sanctuary is how clearly talented the guys in this band are. The fact that they can pull out as many techniques across the board as they do is stunning. It leaves you constantly guessing at what is going to come next and eternally curious to cross the next horizon. It shows us that there are literally no limitations on what Witherscape can be. At the same time, the band's style often feels like a bit of a hodgepodge. I love that they can bring so many vocal styles to the table, but there is rarely a sense of flow, and a lot of times the artistry almost feels lost under the waves of decadent musical madness. At other times the overall implementation of different techniques is subpar. You find yourself wondering why they mix light and dark in the way they do. Don't get me wrong, I love unorthodox songwriting' it just feels that at times Witherscape are being unorthodox simply for the sake of being unorthodox, and that doesn't really do them any favors.
Still, these guys are so goddamn talented and there is no getting around that. No matter what you want to say about this band it is impossible not to be impressed by what they have done here. I'm curious to hear these guys grow and expand on what they were previously thought capable of because there is clearly a mountain of potential here. I just want to pick it apart and digest the band at their finest. Witherscape are possibly progressive musics great hope for the future, but they need to spend a little more time making their songwriting and their approach to vocal technique a bit more refined. The raw talent is there, now they just need help molding it and finding a way to take the magic of all that they can represent and guide them into a beautiful future defined by loud guitars, crazy songs and heavy metal magic.