Well, this is refreshing! It's been a while since I heard some good melodic death metal, and Germany's Words of Farewell certainly deliver just that. The music is textured, beautiful, and most importantly, heavy. Seems that many melodic death metal bands focus more on melody than death these days... not the case here. The balance is just right.
Bringing forth memories of '99-era In Flames and Soilwork and grafting them to modern somber metal like Insomnium and Swallow the Sun, along with the occasional breakdown with haunting ambient keyboards, Words of Farewell craft their songs extremely well. Unless I am mistakenly reading their Metal Archives info, the band wields three guitarists, which allows for some incredible harmony lead work with a strong rhythm underpinning that constantly drives the music forward. The percussion is executed well and not too overproduced, the keyboards are not overly present and shine when they need to, and the vocals show a uniquely wide range considering they're all low growls. In the verses, Alex Otto's growl is soft, but in more powerful choral parts it turns into a beastly bellow that will blow your hair back.
I do have a feeling, though, that Words of Farewell isn't going to catch on in the US, not yet anyway, for a couple of reasons. First, there are NO clean vocals. I don't mind this, but wider audiences, people who like instant hooks, might dismiss this as too screamy. I love that this reminds me of a time when Insomnium didn't use clean vocals, but I am just saying, you won't hear the clean vocals here. Secondly, and more important, their website is a Myspace page. If AFM is a "major" label (according to said Myspace page) then they really ought to be on the band to promote to a wider audience with their own .com or something. They have a Facebook too, I guess, but I don't think that's enough when you're going for the mass push. It's clear by the production and scope of Immersion that this is what the goal was, so why not spend a few bucks on a website?
That aside, this is a great album. It's become one of my favorites. However, I am not surprised, due to the band's low profile, that I missed this last year when it came out. Here's hoping their next effort is just as good, and a lot more visible.