Back in 2007, I was first introduced to Skeletonwitch via their Prosthetic Records’ debut (and second album overall) “Beyond The Permafrost”. I liked the record upon first listen and found myself going back to it a respectable amount of times, but certainly not at a level that would qualify as addictive. That’s not a dig on that album at all, I simply only have so many hours in the day and an oversized and ever growing music collection that prevents me from obsessing over albums the way I did when I was a teenager, but that is a whole different article.
In 2009 I traveled to Atlanta, GA for the inaugural Scion Rock Fest where Skeletonwitch, among many others, were playing. They were on my list of bands to check out and I’m really glad I did indeed adhere to that particular band on my list because that was the moment where I was able to truly appreciate the power of Skeletonwitch. What struck me about Skeletonwitch’s performance was not only the ferocity and skill with which they performed the songs, but the charming banter from lead vocalist Chance Garnette between songs. A lot of metal bands take themselves a little too seriously and forget that, ultimately, this is supposed to be fun. This might not be verbatim as this happened over 2 1/2 years ago, but one of Chance’s between song rants went something along the lines of: “Hey everybody! How’s it goin’? We are Skeletonwitch from Athens, OH and we’d like to remind you to smoke weed, ride motorcycles, eat pussy and listen to HEAVVVVYYYY METTTTAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *band then kicks into song” Oh yeah! And drink beer! I forgot to mention that!” *commences evil metal vocals* Perhaps it had been because I had preemptively followed their advice to drink beer, but I found that particularly amusing and leaned over to my friend and said (shouted) “I’m going to buy one of their t-shirts today”. I always know I’ve really enjoyed a band’s set when I feel a need to purchase merch from them (for the record, I now own four Skeletonwitch t-shirts). Since that performance, I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of Skeletonwitch and their particular brand of heavy metal.
Anyway, this is supposed to be an album review, so I’ll stop with the history of how I came to be a fan of Skeletonwitch and get into talking about their new album “Forever Abomination”. 2009’s “Breathing The Fire” was a good follow up to “Beyond The Permafrost”, but felt more on par with its’ predecessor than a step up. This was slightly disappointing because when you really like a band, you always want them to take it to the next level on each release, but then again, it was still another album of kick ass heavy metal, so there wasn’t too much to complain about it. “Forever Abomination”, however, IS the record where Skeletonwitch kicks it up a notch. Produced by Matt Hyde (Slayer, Monster Magnet, Hatebreed, Porno For Pyros), the songs feel more urgent and the rock ‘n roll vibe (in the sense of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, etc.) is more prevalent which puts this album at the top of their discography. The term black metal is often used when describing Skeletonwitch’s sound, but that is, I think, mostly due to Chance Garnette’s vocal style which is definitely in the style of black metal, but musically the band owes more to Death Angel and Deicide than Dimmu Borgir. Skeletonwitch mercifully avoids the pitfalls of many of the current crop of retro thrash bands who wear their influences a little too prominently on their sleeves and instead incorporates other genres into the mix thus making the ingredients a little more difficult to separate and pick apart, which is a good thing. This is the true new breed of thrash metal (with a dash of death metal) as it reminds you of the bands that started the genre, but at the same time feels completely modern and fresh. Standout tracks on an overall excellent album include “This Horrifying Force (The Desire To Kill)”, “Cleaver Of Souls”, “Erased And Forgotten” and “Rejoice In Misery”.
If you like your metal bands to be waving the flag of heavy metal, play fast guitars with kick ass drumming and have lots of merch with skulls on it, then Skeletonwitch is the band for you.
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