Witnesses - The Collapse

25 Dec 2021 - Gene

Doom, Metal, Prog, Alternative | Self-Released | Release date: 31 Oct 2021

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Shifting focus again, as fluid as the sands of time, Greg Schwann embraces the darkness of our times with aptly named The Collapse.

Harnessing his recent explorations in ambience while continuing to encroach on Prog-Metal territories, The Collapse sees Witnesses beginning to pull nearly all their prior endeavors into strength.

They have changed course again, but not completely. As they say, The Collapse is a continuation of Doom II, and, as such, has much to live up to. I think they’ve not only conjured a worthy successor, but with the sheer amount of ideas and level of creativity on this canvas, have set themselves a course for something stellar yet to come.

While I was particularly enamored of the project’s earliest explorations of Dark-Folk on I, and the Doom-Noir soundtrack of III, I am extremely happy when I hear those first distorted notes escape my speakers. The first heavy riffs. While I sort of expected a continuation of the Poltergeist EP, from earlier in the year, and slightly missed Gabbi Coenen’s plaintive crooning, I found more to love here. The effect of Anlaik’s vocals giving out a bit of grunge feel, nicely controlled and poignant, with Anathema being the clearest likely signpost, in general, but quickly distinguishing itself as just a bit wilder.

The Collapse weaves in and out of heavy mid-tempo Doom parts, crunchy riffs, solos and beautiful passages layered with classical guitar and piano and more distortion. Once again, impossibly dense for the sparseness of instrumentation. Production skills, clearly top notch. Mood-building taking focus as dense ambient passages abound. From the ”Entrance” to the prolonged ambient outro of ”Repose,” the solemn, moody, neo-classical aperitif of lead solo on follower, ”Interlude.” But on balance, the album is actually quite heavy!

I just don’t want to say too much about the album. There is no need. You must’ve heard it by now. I’m only bummed we hadn’t crossed paths before my AOTY list got written up. This is that good. It is that interesting and varied. A little offbeat, unexpected. A poignant soundtrack for the times. Happy listening and happy holidays!