Their name clearly implies a degree of aggression and plenty of darkness, but WITHERING SCORN are a much more melodic and traditional beast than that. Brothers Shawn and Glenn Drover, arguably best known for particularly fruitful stints as members of MEGADETH, join forces here with bassist Joe DiBiase (ex-FATES WARNING) and vocalist Henning Basse (ex-METALIUM, FIREWIND and MAYAN),for a sincerely brutal but eminently accessible exercise in heavy fucking metal. "Prophets Of Demise" eschews all the cheeriness and pep of modern power metal in favor of red-blooded crunch and a state-of-the-art, prog-tinged speed metal attack. It's utterly ripping.
Fans of VICIOUS RUMORS, BRAINSTORM and METAL CHURCH will be in raptures over this, not least because WITHERING SCORN have a comparable gift for penning giant, muscular anthems that showcase the skills of all those involved. The Drovers past work in EIDOLON is a decent reference point too, but everything from the title track onwards exhibits a militant enthusiasm for metal in its unabashed, purest form. At times, on the furious "Pick Up the Pieces" and the joyously gnarly "Dethroned", WITHERING SCORN weave technical thrash and faint shades of melodic death metal into their sound, but thanks to Basse's exceptional vocal range, the end result has most in common with the greats of '80s American power metal. These songs frequently soar, even as they wreak havoc on one's neck muscles. Elsewhere, "The Vision" is a feast of mid-tempo punch, with at least two huge, gleaming hooks, while "Never Again" and "Dark Reflections" are both refined examples of the power of a sub-four-minute metal song. The latter, in particular, oozes malevolent intent, and sums up WITHERING SCORN's pitch-black remit perfectly.
A strong debut by any standards, "Prophets of Demise" is book-ended by its two finest songs. The title track is a riot of groove and grit, with Basse on commanding form and Glen Drover's explosive soloing front and center, but it's also a subtly intricate and epic construction. Even better is the closing "Eternal Screams": an eight-minute ballad with an unholy heart, and some of the toughest, most truculent chug this side of classic METALLICA. Again, Basse sings his head off, demonstrating considerably more character and charisma than his work with the great but overly polished METALIUM ever allowed.
The clincher here is that WITHERING SCORN sound like a proper band, rather than some transient side-project, and despite only skimming the surface of the quartet's self-evident potential, "Prophets of Demise" sounds like the start of something special. Nose-flattening heavy fucking metal, performed by experts? Yes, sir. Highly recommended.