When one thinks of the band Witherfang, the instinct is to immediately lump them in under the Ghost umbrella of clones. This is no accident, the band's lead guitarist Anthony Flakus touts himself as an avid Ghost fan and has tried his best on several occasions to get me into the band. To be fair, being labelled a Ghost clone, aside from the negative connotations of the word clone, is not necessarily a bad thing. The band certainly has a unique sound, combining lightly satanic, gothic visual and musical theatrics, with classic heavy metal influences, such as Blue Oyster Cult and post Black Sabbath Ozzy. I for one, love all those things, however am continuously perplexed by the low energy performances, a stylistic choice of the band. The songwriting is almost always superb, however I never feel like I’m having fun when listening to the band. The entire experience for me is usua
I will say that Ghost has grown on me quite a bit, this is no doubt partly due to Flakus’ persistence; The Band’s last release Prequelle seems to be infused with a bit more energy than their previous releases, and lets be real, Circle is a fuckin’ banger. Ghost clones have given me more of an appreciation for the band, the primary culprit being Witherfang, who gives the sound some much needed energy. I’ve seen the young satanic upstarts live several times and when they manage to throw a Ghost cover into their packed set, the band accentuates the songs in all the right ways. I always feel that I walked away wanting to listen to whatever Ghost song they had decided to play, but after a long night listening to death metal bands, playing them in the car doesn’t quite hit the same.
That brings me to In Extremis, Witherfang’s upcoming ep. The band released the music video yesterday morning, debuting their new track of the same name, and boy oh boy do I love it! To be completely honest, Flakus being the super cool guy that he is, gave me early access to the EP, and ever since, I’ve been dying to share it with everyone! Every track on this EP is an instant classic. The songwriting is superb, the instrumentals are exuberant, and I cannot believe how good it sounds. In Extremis take’s the band to new heights. It’s clear that this is no longer the same band that released Causality to an excited me, but a band that is now something bigger and better than the wide eyed little vampires they started as. In Extremis proves the band is more than just a Ghost clone, but a band in their own right worthy of competing with Ghost. Let’s talk about it.
The EP is quite a bit heavier than their previous release, while still retaining the catchy choruses and gothic themes. Jordan, whose screams mirror that of bands like Behemoth, is working overtime, providing the perfect contrast to Garret’s cleans. His bass playing isn’t bad either, and works quite well to provide beefy compliment to Flakus’ complexly layered guitar playing. Garret’s vocals are also top notch, providing the band a unique feel that pulls the band out of ghost territory, all the while being great enough to make me sound halfway decent when I’m singing along in the car. Flakus once again provides a stellar performance on guitar. His riffs, while being fairly basic structurally are so fleshed out, taking full advantage of every square inch of every measure. This layered approach to songwriting provides a complex listening experience. I’ve had the EP for several months now and I’m still noticing new things with every listen. Drummer Kelton, may he smoke in peace, after providing the EP some pretty dope drum work has unfortunately moved to be with his family in Colorado. Every hit is crisp and clean, and that’s the key word with In Extremis, “Clean.”
Everything is squeaky clean here with the mix. If you had told me they had paid half a million dollars to produce this EP, I would believe you; It certainly sounds like it. This is the cleanest mix I’ve ever heard out of Omaha and I am loving it. Every instrument is clear as day, never encroaching upon each other’s sonic space. I’m baffled at how this sounds this good! In Extremis was produced by Jeremy Schaeffer, and Idk who he is, but I hope every local band from here on out goes to him. Props man, this thing sounds fantastic!
With In Extremis, Witherfang have proven themselves to be more than a Ghost clone, rising above their influences, achieving their own distinct gothic sound. When I first covered this band, I knew they were special, and since then I've been blown away by their skilled musicianship and fantastic songwriting. In Extremis is a home run, and I can’t wait for you all to hear it in its entirety.