Blood For the Master: Witherfang Continues to Slay
What it do, it’s ya spooky sexy vampire boy Brian, informing you that I have in fact been turned by sexy front man of Witherfang Garrett, and we are now lovers who sleep in the same room but share a bunk bed so that we have more room for our bone collection, although we can float… And really the ceiling is fair game. It’s almost like we have 2 rooms now because the laws of physics don’t apply to spooky vampire boys. But I digress, I’m not here to praise almighty Garrett for his vampirous sorceries and sick collection of femurs, I’m here to talk about the new Witherfang EP.
In case it was not made clear, I have no idea how to start an article, but what I do know is, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve covered Witherfang. They’ve been one of my favorite local bands since I first covered them way back in 2018, and I’ve always tried to make room for them when I can. Since the release of their debut EP In Extremis they’ve rerecorded their first single “Causality,” dropped a synth wave remix of the track, and recently released a cover of Rammstein’s, “Rammstein” which mostly seems like an excuse to recreate their classic, oily, shirtless cover.
I’ve also gotten to “know” and befriend several members. I skate with lead vocalist/rhythm guitar player Garrett on a regular basis (and he’s become one of my best friends), have covered sometimes drummer/sometimes bassist/always background vocalist Jordan a ton, (he’s in too many bands to keep track of, of course I cover him a lot,) and have bonded with Anthony over our lack of spiritualism, and that time I had to take him to the emergency room after he got cocky trying to do a pop shove it over a hip, breaking his leg in 2 places. Dude should have taken Garrett’s offer for eternal life, it’s a pretty sick deal honestly. You just have to give up a femur. I’ve honestly had a blast this year making new friends and having new experiences and the Witherfang boys have been a big part of that.
Now that we’ve gotten caught up, Witherfang is back with a brand-new EP, Blood for the Master… And I love it! Of course, while there is no way for me to be unbiased with this review, (they are my sweet, moist baby boys after all,) I do still have some constructive criticisms to balance out the biases.
In typical Witherfang fashion this EP sounds fantastic. The mix is incredibly professional, and the performances are crisp, precise, and energetic (something I feel is not always the case for Witherfang’s biggest inspiration Ghost.) The songwriting is also on par with prior Witherfang releases with heavy riffs, melodic solos, and catchy choruses. There isn’t too much new here sonically, however thematically there is a bit of a shift.
Blood For The Master gives Witherfang a bit of a facelift, leaning away from their traditional fantasy themes and into their traditional gothic themes. This shift is made more obvious by the fantastically evil 90’s death metal cover art by their artist Will-Helm Arts. The piece definitely works to paint the music in a more gothic light. I mean look at this thing. One would expect this kind of artwork on a Morbid Angel album. Bolstering this shift is a slight shift lyrically, with Garrett crooning about blood sacrifice, the implications of mortality, and spooky vampire stuff. With how the tracks are presented it feels very much like Witherfang is weaving a narrative, perhaps about becoming a vampire. That would make a lot more sense as to why Garrett kept trying to bite my neck. Like ow! That’s not cool dude. I’m trying to talk to you like a human. Can we just have a normal conversation for like a minute? Why you always gotta be so weird.
There are some standout tracks here. “Eclipse,” has a particularly catchy chorus and several super heavy moments. Jordan’s vocals shine in this track especially and are always a great contribution to Witherfang's overall sound. They both stand out and pair nicely with Garrett’s cleans. I’ve always liked Garrett’s vocal performances, they always feel super unique tonally, while having a nice and full sound. He’s also got great control over vibrato and timbre and has a great understanding of what is needed musically at any given moment. His performances on this are no exception. Bassist Ryan also brings quite a bit in this track and manages to break away from following the guitar part the most here. Let’s get more of this, and someone get this man a Bass solo!
I also really enjoy “Hexennacht '' which is Witherfang’s first purely instrumental track. It’s placed quite nicely as the second to last track on the album, acting as a palette cleanser before the last track, and leans in a bit more of a progressive direction than most of Witherfang’s stuff. I love all the extraneous instruments like organs, synths, and acoustic guitars that stand out here. It’s a nice change of pace, and honestly, I hope to hear more progressive tracks like it going forward. I think my favorite song of the album is “Blood For The Master” which has guest vocalist Maeve Marie of Neo Sol, and In Bloom. She adds quite a bit of gravitas with her vocal performance alongside Garrett, especially when they double up, like with the pre solo line “death has lost its hold on me.” It gives me chills every time. I especially like the solo following it. Anthony always kills it in the solo area and this one has a ton of great little runs.
On to the criticisms which are more nitpicks than actual criticisms. I feel like “The Path To Immortality Leads To Madness,” has the weakest chorus on the EP, and the “Alpha-uhhhh… Omeg-uhhhh…” pre-chorus is a bit cheesy for my taste. The song is also a tad bit slow tempo-wise, but to be fair that’s like 90% of all music to me. If everyone could record all songs 5-10 beats per minute faster to match my internal clock, that would be amazing. I don’t think that’s too much of a request to make considering I review content for you all. Since becoming a vampire, I am now a card-carrying member of the immortal community, and as such my contributions to this world in the form of “original,” and “ground-breaking,” “music-reviews'' are now ceaseless, so you might as well all appease me. Also, the song just kind of ends. It’s a little anticlimactic, and as such…
Overall, I really enjoyed this EP. Witherfang continues to put out banger after banger, and this EP is a testament to their commitment to exceptionalism. I hope they continue to go in this more gothic direction, especially with their artwork. That cover is so powerful it colors the tracks and seriously impacts how the work is presented. It’s kind of amazing, and I would love to see more artwork from Will-Helm in this vein. I also hope to hear some more of the progressive elements toyed around with in Hexennacht. I feel like it could really help to elevate their future works. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff though.