German melodeath band Words of Farewell will release their third full-length, A Quiet World, in the U.S. through AFM Records on January 20, 2017. This album continues their evolution, started on 2014’s The Black Wild Yonder, toward a more hard-edged and progressive sound, compared to the sweeping melancholy sound of their first album, Immersion (2012).
The band shows their progressive streak right from the start, with the noodly opening of the first track, “My Share of Loneliness.” There were proggy bits on The Black Wild Yonder, too, but they were more like the happy-but-also-sad melodies of Omnium Gatherum, while in “My Share of Loneliness” the prog is outright exuberant (in contrast to the song title). The song does have its atmospheric moments, too, interspersed with proggy frolicking and headbangable grooves.
I’m most drawn to the atmospheric parts of the album — tracks like “Gallows Frame,” “Oversoul” and “This Shadow My Likeness” that hearken back to the style of Immersion. “Gallows Frame” progresses through numerous moods, with ambient and futuristic-sounding proggy parts, an expansive chorus, uplifting-yet-sad melodies contrasting with sharply growled or choked harsh vocals, groovy melodic riffs and finally a slowed-down despairing ending. In “Oversoul,” sweeping melancholy guitar notes alternate and mingle with crunchy, aggressive riffs, with some proggy musings laced with longing thrown in. “This Shadow My Likeness” is a ten-minute epic that again moves from an introspective intro, to proggy melody with aggressive drumming and then soaring, aching guitar notes — and that’s all before the vocals begin. Hammeringly aggressive percussion, a heavy distorted bassline and hard-hitting vocals combine with sweeping melody, and alternate with quieter segments. The song ends with a spoken segment that emphasizes the storytelling aspect of the album.
Right from the start, A Quiet World seemed like it might be a concept album. The album cover is very futuristic, seemingly sci fi-themed, and reminds me of the anime Ghost in the Shell (the Japanese neon sign helps that idea along a little). It makes me think there might be a story behind this picture. The contrast between the urban setting and the album title A Quiet World is also intriguing – perhaps referring to a quiet inner world where introspective persons need to retreat sometimes, getting away from the hustle and bustle of the world even if for just a moment.
Actually, when I first saw this album cover on Spotify, I thought it couldn’t be the same Words of Farewell, since it was so different from their previous covers (stones emerging from a misty body of water on the cover of Immersion and a photo that seemed like an ancient Greek statue on the cover of The Black Wild Yonder). But in a way, it represents the band’s changing style, which incorporates more prog with a spacey, futuristic sound. Although I personally prefer the sorrowful symphony of Immersion, I can’t say they did a bad job with A Quiet World. It’s a masterful album with a little bit of something for everybody all over the melodeath spectrum, whether you like aggression, moodiness or epic melodies — plus a little boundary-pushing in their progressive forays.