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Another band frequently associated with the modern thrash metal movement, Skeletonwitch has arguably become the most popular blackened thrash group in the United States. They’ve gotten on some major tours like Ozzfest and Glenn Danzig’s Blackest of the Black spectacle and also managed to garner some support from Adult Swim. While this is the band’s fourth official studio album, the rather bizarre status of their 2004 debut makes this feel more like their third. It is also the first album to feature former Demiricous drummer Dustin Boltjes and serves as a solid continuation of their signature style.
As many have noted, Skeletonwitch does blend a lot of subgenres together when forging their sound. In addition to using a lot of thrashy tempos and black metal influence on the vocals and drumming, they also show a nice melodic side in the form of classic metal guitar harmonizing and a few melodic death metal flirtations. Of course, there have been variations between releases and this one certainly has its own tropes. While 2007’s Beyond the Permafrost had more flourishes of melody and 2009’s Breathing the Fire was something of a modern day Reign in Blood, this effort appears to be between the two while still showing off fast tempos and short song lengths.
But like every other Skeletonwitch album, the band members are truly firing on all cylinders. Vocalist Chance Garnette is easily the band’s standout member as he shows a lot of dexterity between his black metal shriek and death metal rumble. The twin guitars also sound great and Boltjes manages to fit in quite well. The bass appears to be one of the few things that could be nitpicked; it doesn’t have that much of a presence throughout but even it gets a chance to shine on the introduction of “Cleaver of Souls.” Some more extreme fans may also find the production to be a bit too polished but I still think it’s a good way to work these elements together and gives everything a chilling flavor.
But if there’s one thing you can say about the Witch, it’s that their songwriting is quite consistent. Like Breathing the Fire before it, just about every song on here is fast and intense. As a result, a few songs tend to be rather interchangeable but some songs still find ways to stand out.
On one hand, there are plenty of experimental moments on here. “This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)” is a bit more elaborate than its four-minute duration would suggest as its thrashing is bookended by some nifty eastern riffs and acoustic work. In addition, “The Infernal Resurrection” is probably the most accessible song on the album and “Cleaver Of Souls” has a mellow outro that reminds one of the end of “Repulsive Salvation.” Of course, there are other things that channel the band’s black metal side and take on much stronger drumming. “Reduced To The Failure Of Prayer” and the closing “My Skin of Deceit” are both noteworthy tracks with the latter showing off some rather jumpy guitar parts.
But like every other Witch album, it is somewhat hard to tell if this one needs to be longer than its thirty-two minute running time. While there is not a single bad song on here and several are able to give the listener sufficient beatings with less than three minutes at a time to spare, it does feel like a few songs could afford an extra minute or two to really stand out and it is technically the shortest album in their discography. Having said that, it does eliminate a bunch of filler so it is really a matter of personal taste…
All in all, this album reinforces the notion that Skeletonwitch has just about everything going for them. Their sound is unique, the production is great, and the band members are really great at what they do. However, with the songwriting still being a little same-ish at times, it feels as though they’re still not quite at the point of releasing their finest effort. From there, this is a very easy album to recommend to fans of thrash, black, death, and every metal subgenre in between. But for the rest of us, this is an enjoyable album that does deserve to be heard. It may not be the album of the year but it does give one something entertaining to listen to while waiting to see what they’ll come up with next.
“This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)”
“Reduced To The Failure of Prayer”
“The Infernal Resurrection”
“Cleaver Of Souls”
“My Skin of Deceit"
Let me start by saying that this is a blackened thrash masterpiece. What Skeletonwitch has created here is a sinful and nasty concoction of blackened-deathly-thrash metal and it is absolutely magnificent. From the soul crushing lyrics, to the shredding interactivity of the two guitars, to the insistent thrashing of the drums and bass it is something that is pure metal in spirit and sound.
For those already familiar with Skeletonwitch, this album is not too different from their previous releases, but it definitely has a new edge to it. The blade that is their music has been honed. The production and songwriting on this album are absolutely brutal and visceral, and the overall sound is much meatier than past albums. The bands sound is full, developed, and tyrannic. This album does not fuck around. Skeletonwitch has managed to capture and reproduce pure darkness and transmit it to our minds in audio format,
The guitar riffage and drums are extremely thrashy, but not formulaic or dull at all like some bands that people consider "throwback-thrash". They have a blackened edge to them that increases the seriousness and brutality tenfold, and grips your spine with its claws. The vocals alternate between sinister black metal growls, and demonic deep death metal growls. But Chance Garnette produces each syllable and lyric with such distinct clarity and brutality, his lines will seem to be prophecy.
If you are a true metalhead, and like any thrash metal or black metal, this album may very well dominate your soul. You will be compelled to rage when you hear it, and inspired to head-bang and circle-pit as if possessed by a demon. In my opinion, this is amongst the top 5 albums of 2011 and I must say there has been some excellent progress in the realm of metal in the past year.
The only reason I gave this album a 99% rather than a perfect 100% is that I feel this band has more room to grow. All of their albums are malicious and excellent, and seem to encroach closer to the sound of hell itself with each release, This album is virtually perfect, but I feel that this band is climbing, and their next release could possibly dwarf this one (though imagining something that mind blowing is difficult).
Having made waves around the metal underground from the residue of some successful tours and a few critically-acclaimed releases, Skeletonwitch continues the diabolical madness throughout "Forever Abomination," the band's fourth full-length album not even ten years into the group's conception. They perform a rather adequate class of black/thrash metal that delivers dark and barbarous riffs cooking the fiery atmosphere appropriately, but at the same time they easily stitch on some hyperborean black metal influence that freezes the sound like Lucifer's wings flapping in the deepest pit of damnation, oh so far from the light of Heaven. “Forever Abomination” sounds just like the typical product of a black/thrash metal band doing the nasty, but I’m not complaining. They have the riffs and licks to make the record a relevant, satisfying experience.
Anything new or revolutionary here? Not really, but that’s no reason for panic. Skeletonwitch carries the bold stride of black/thrash metal under their demonic hearts with killing riffs touching on both thrash and black metal, mutually balancing on a neat nexus of melodies and themes often incorporated in both sounds. Skeletonwitch reveals some very nice songwriting hints between the pair of metallic spirits always possessing “Forever Abomination,“ and it’s actually a lot more developed and iconic than the 1-2-3 structuring I was anticipating; they aren’t master songwriters, but credit is earned when credit is due. The songs are quick and punchy (only two breach the three-minute mark) jabs of frenzied riffs and chilling black metal condensing the priorities of Skeletonwitch into one acceptable piece of riff-loaded madness. Quick, simple, and electric.
I am somewhat irked by the mundane rasps which pass off as vocals; anyone and anything could perform these one-dimensional shrieks with little effort. Not to discredit the dude for doing his thing, but some spice would be great, really anything to jazz up the microphone’s flat creation. In the end, it’s a Skeletonwitch album, and expecting something completely contemporary or progressive would be foolish. Not that that’s a bad thing; these dudes come off successfully despite the lack of specific monuments within their style. You’ll definitely enjoy “Forever Abomination” if you’re familiar with the group’s works or just desire something that won’t douse itself in useless crap. Skeletonwitch is Skeletonwitch, and “Forever Abomination” is Skeletonwitch.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Pummeling, head crushing album from new wave thrash legends. When I say thrash, it usually reminds me of the bay area thrash legends Metallica, Exodus. Many metal bands have had their inception in late 2000's to bring out the thrash from the 80's out of the grave. Bands like Warbringer, Evile, Trivium had their part to make this movement successful. But, another band 'Skeletonwitch' from Ohio made their cut by their 2011's studio effort 'Forever Abomination' which draws combined influences from traditional 'Black' and 'Thrash' with an excellent production under 'Prosthetic Records'. Their unsympathetic attitude toward making a face-grinding blackened-thrash record proved to be a tremendous success.
Like every bands' attempt to feign Metallica's Battery, FA starts with a 30-second acoustic piece 'The Horrifying Force' into a thrash-y riff, with low-pitched horrifying vocals progresses into a memorable chorus with constant bass-driven groovy sound running all over the song and a cool outro. 'Reduced to Failure of Prayer' starts like a conventional death-metal riff accompanied by gutter vocals, into a catchy melody and a couple of shredding solo later. 'Of Ash and Torment' starts with a merciless blast-beat intro followed by rich melodies and unexpected breakdowns, a cool experiment though. Songs 'Choke beyond Betrayal' & 'Erased and Forgotten' burns in your head with old school thrash licks and shredding solos. 'Infernal Resurrection' an important song, starts with a melo-death riff, a kind of what Amon Amarth would do, but builds up into a typical death-metal song. 'Rejoice in Misery' is just an another FA song almost repetitive song-structure, but by this time the album's sound might have filled up in your grey matter. 'Cleaver of Souls' can be described as a Slayer song mixed with 'Machine Head', with a perfect breakdown into a acoustic lick, my favorite song in this album. 'Shredding Sacred Flesh' & 'Sink Beneath Insanity' are loaded with chugging riffs and melodic guitar driven passages into a more complicated breakdowns. Last song 'My skin of Deceit' is not disappointing too.
Nothing more can be said than 'Skeletonwitch' is becoming a main-stream thrash band in this century. This effort by them charges up a gruesome beast, that can generate aggression and attitude that most of the bands fail to. Lyrical themes included death, violence and satanism, cleverly written. I think this band clearly has made a decent effort to appeal to serious underground metal-heads.
This horrifying force, Of Ash and Torment, Cleaver of souls, Shredding sacred flesh.
-- Originally written for http://headbangersherald.blogspot.com/ --
Athens, Ohio is known for three things: being a college town (and therefore home to hipsters), the former site of Midget Motors Corporation, and the home of one of the Midwest's most treasured metal bands, Skeletonwitch. They released their fourth full-length this year in Forever Abomination.
The album does not bring anything new to the table. This is clearly Skeletonwitch-brand blackened thrash, with short, fast-paced thrash attacks with some blackened riffing and rasped vocals. It's raw, pure, and simple. If it ain't broke, as they say.
Abomination represents yet another incremental improvement by the band. They sound a bit tighter this time around, and the songwriting is marginally better than their previous release. Of course, that makes it a non-essential addition to your collection. And even though it's slightly better by any objective standard, it lacks some of the charm of breakout Beyond the Permafrost.
The Verdict: Skeletonwitch believe in the virtue of consistency. A new record from them is about the same as a new record from Amon Amarth. It will not win any new fans, but it won't alienate anyone either.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Skeletonwitch is a band whose music I've never felt was quite commensurate to the hype surrounding it, if only because I've never enjoyed their particular marriage of guitars to vocals. This somewhat changed with 2009's Breathing the Fire,their most impressive riffing gallery to date, as the guitars were finally strong enough that I could listen past Chance Garnett's monotonous black rasp. Two years out, and they've fired up the creative forge once more, with Forever Abomination, another colorfully fronted effort which features some of the tightest dual axe-slinging in all the metal realm, a duo writing riffs that actually matter rather than 'settling' for the same rehash you hear from about 99% of bands out there. Blazing, exciting and perfectly produced, they've just got one obstacle here...and you've probably guessed it already.
Yep, the black, rasped vocals return, this time even more one-note and irritating. Granted, it's not like the guy's delivery would be out of place in some black/death metal environs, but there is just something so disappointing that such effort goes into creating such a bright, pulverizing guitar tone and then spoiling it all with such a lackluster snarl that hides just behind it. It's like baking a three layer cake with fabulous fillings on each tier, then frosting it all with a dash of dull Betty Crocker chocolate icing. What's worse, Garnett's meter is so predictably generic that he almost never varies it throughout specific verses and phrases. You could have just sampled one or two syllables into an audio program and then cut and paste them in patterns and created a comparable emotional range. For fuck's sake, some variety would go a long way to making this one of the best modern thrash band's in the US. Syncopated gang shouts, a more guttural death vocal, or better yet, a charismatic, distinct voice like all the great 80s thrashers carried.
Another thing is that I just don't buy this band's lyrics. They write about demons and vengeance suffering and pain and Dark Ones and all this other 'extreme' stuff, not unusual for a black/thrash hybrid by any means, and yet it just doesn't feel right for some reason. I can't exactly put my finger on why. It seems like they're just throwing words together, scrabbling up some cliches to make them sound cold and evil, but I'm never on this album convinced that they actually believe any of it or even give a damn. A shame, too, because when I see a track called "My Skin of Deceit" or "Choke Upon Betrayal" I'd love to see it backed with some grit and meaning, but this instead feels like what might transpire if Hatebreed wrote an album based on the Necronomicon. Wasn't into it.
On the other hand, with those considerable gripes being aired in the open, there is no way I can deny the potency of the actual riffing. If only the lion's share of younger, 21st century spawned thrash bands were writing at this level of inspiration the genre would be alive and well. They do a lot of melodic black/death lines which give tracks like "This Horrifying Force (the Desire to Kill)", "Sink Beneath Insanity" and "The Infernal Resurrection" a semi-Swedish feel, and they often weave in tremolo melodeath passages, but where they really accelerate is through pure, high speed thrashing tension. "Rejoice in Misery", "Cleaver of Souls", "Of Ash and Torment" will all cave and kick in your skull, and just about every song on the album has at least one riff of merit tucked away inside. Whether Scott Hedrick and Nate Garnette are playing in perfect unison or splitting hairs and strings, the two work wonders here, backed by a firm rhythm section.
If only it had been different. If only this had a singer with the distinguished presence of a Tom Angelripper, Schmier or someone equally hostile and unforgettable, we'd be dealing with an enormously fun album. As it stands though, the rasping is a hurdle that it never quite leaps past, not only in the delivery but the actual engineering, and I really found it hindering my desire to keep on spinning through the song list. Certainly one to check out for riffing that will have your neck in a brace almost instantaneously, but ultimately the vocals and lyrics did nothing for me, and I enjoyed it somewhat less than its predecessor.
Skeletonwitch came into a scene that never had a great deal of recognition. While the whole black/thrash movement seems logical, there hasn’t always been a solid enough fan base to help keep it alive. Pioneered by bands like Sabbat, Celtic Frost and Venom back in the early 1980′s, blackened thrash has maintained its relatively straightforward brand of satanic speed metal into the current generation. Thanks to bands like Destroyer 666 and Aura Noir, the genre can continue to grow and evolve. This enables a band like Skeletonwitch to bring its own interpretation of blackened thrash to the masses.
This album marks the band’s fourth release and it holds true to the standards put forth by the genre’s forefathers. After three previous full lengths, the bands maturity is showing through with the level of variation in instrumental and vocal styling. The guitars are very well done, albeit a bit subdued compared to the rest of the songs. Solos are showcased in tracks like “Reduced to the Failure of Prayer” and “Choke Beyond Betrayal” and act as well placed additions to the music instead of flamboyant distractions.
The drums stand as the best demonstrative piece of the instrumental side of the album. They hit hard and have a great deal of variation between different tempos and songs. This kind of quality really helps establish a baseline and pushes the music forward. Strong double bass, blast beats and atmospheric cymbal work all come together to give the music a certain strength.The vocal work comes off , there is also a good deal of variation between low growls and higher pitched vocals akin to other artists in the black/thrash scene. All lyrical content holds true to the genre’s roots and primarily delve into Satanism and the occult.
The best and worst quality of this album is its consistency, depending on how you take it. From the very beginning to the very end, the album holds on and refuses to let up. Every song feels as if it was an extension of the one before it. For some, this can be a very positive experience because the music tends to pull you away from reality and bring you into the violent world that Skeletonwitch has created. To others, the songs may feel a bit samey and end up grating against one another as you look for more variation in tempo and rythym. Regardlless of your take on repetitiveness, every track is well constructed and has a lot of meat to chew on as you work your way through the album.
In the end, the album leaves you feeling like there could have been just a little bit more. With an album length of just over a half hour, there is more material that could have been packed in here without too much trouble. Repetitiveness may become an issue for some, but the skill level that is presented both instrumentally and vocally help keep the album together. There is just enough variation to keep you interested, but not enough to stray away from what this hybrid genre has to offer. Whatever your take, “Forever Abomination” is a well crafted piece of metal that will help carry on the torch to another generation of blackened thrash metalheads.
Originally written for Metal Blast Magazine:
I can't believe this album hasn't been reviewed already. Same old Skeletonwitch, not much new here, but if you are a fan of their previous two albums, then you will love this. The things they did throw in were pretty interesting and done right. The acoustic guitar (which I wasn't expecting at all from a band like this) is totally fitting to kick off the album and the great first track. It sounds more like Breathing the Fire, maybe a little better, but still not as godly as their masterpiece, Beyond the Permafrost. It's just because a lot of the songs run together (in a good way), but it makes it difficult to pick out favorite tracks.
The cons of this album are few and far between. Skeletonwitch is obviously here to stay, being one of the most consistent bands in the metal world. They didn't sell out or change their style one bit, they just consistently put out excellent thrash/black metal that is just to my liking since those are the best sub genres of metal. One thing I noticed is a lack of guitar solos that were numerous on Beyond the Permafrost. Other than that, there is nothing wrong and it is a perfect name. The best thing is they have still managed to come up with those sick song titles and lyrics. Skeletonwitch will disembowel you through your ear holes....so obviously this album is vital to any fan of thrash/black metal. GET IT!
Athens, Ohio melodic extreme metallers Skeletonwitch (some label them thrash, but forget to add their other influences, mainly early 90’s melodic black/death) have returned with their fourth “long play”, Forever Abomination, a highly expected release for me and, I can imagine, many of my metal brothers and sisters out there. In a year plagued with many disappointing releases, going from mild steps back (e.g. Amorphis, Lake of Tears, Mastodon) to outraging utter failures (Pestilence and Morbid Angel) the Witch has stood strong. And though surprises (good or bad) are nowhere for be found here, there’s no decrease in quality either, and new drummer Dustin Boltjes has been successfully assimilated into the band’s nicely greased machinery.
As a shameless fanboy of this band, I have only one tiny, almost insignificant complain with this album. Forever Abomination, is two minutes shorter than Breathing the Fire, which in turn was two minutes shorter than Beyond the Permafrost. See the path here? Next album will probably under half hour duration. Maybe I’m overreacting, but hell, why not add more songs or try to make a couple of them longer? Skeletonwitch have proved of being more than capable of writing breathtaking four-minute, err… “epics” like “Onward to Battle” or “Within My Blood”. So why not venture more into that territory? But no, the skeletonguys played it safe here, and that’s why I’m slightly disappointed, though it’s something that shouldn’t bother most fans.
But enough bitching. Let’s now talk about the goodies found here. Well, for starters we have the four-minute opener (hooray!) called “This Horrifying Force (the Desire to Kill)”, which sets up the mood with a creepy intro. You can picture the corpse-trees on the cover moving along. Then the song explodes with menacing melodic riffage, and soon enough Chance Garnett’s unholy throat spits out a blood-chilling scream. This song starts in a more atmospheric manner yet sooner than we realize it becomes a full thrash-fest assault with pummeling percussion. Near the end of the song, we have those amazing tremolo melodies, which are a recurring and extremely well used resource of this band. And this description, my dear metal brothers and sisters, pretty much suits many of the songs we’ll find here. Nice changes in pace, great leads with traditional inspiration, fast and punishing rhythms, stellar black rasps/death growls and lots of quality riffs packed into mostly under-three-minute ragers of infernal mayhem and chaos… This is Skeletonwitch!
As another reviewer stated, the production on this one is more akin to a live gig, with the graver sounds slightly prevailing, a bit of a change when compared to previous works, yet if you are new to this band, you can’t go wrong in picking this recent abomination. It is as good as the two previous albums as a starting point, and like those two there are no fillers. All eleven tracks are pure deadly adrenaline, though personal favorites are the already mentioned opener, the misanthropic “Erased and Forgotten”, obviously “The Infernal Resurrection” with it’s catchy as hell main riff, and“Cleaver of Souls”, which boasts an amazing slow melodic lead at the rear, probably the only “surprise” on the entire album, and a pretty good one I must say. So, go forth and sink beneath insanity with the Witch’s spells!
Before I begin my review, it would be appropriate for me to be clear that I am a long time fan of the Witch. As an avid fan of black and thrash metal, I have always been attracted to everything that comes with Skeletonwitch. Everything down to the logo represents some aspect of this subculture and these sub-genres of music, and that is why it is easy to be hooked to this band.
That being said, I think this album has gone even further, and has set aside Skeletonwitch as more than just a fusion of two vicious brands of metal. Skeletonwitch has carved a unique sound with Forever Abomination, their 4th album to date (3rd released on Prosthetic). Nothing sounds like it, and it sounds like nothing else. Not only has the band fused many aspects of extreme metal genres, but the music has taken on a groove that I think even my non-metal head friends would enjoy for its own merit. Skeletonwitch has always had this, but here it makes the music seem like it would be oddly accessible to those who enjoy traditional rock n' roll music.
As far as the tracks go... it's hard to choose a favorite, and singling the highlights out is difficult, because I enjoyed every song on this album. With the short length of about 33 minutes, this record demands to be listened to in full, much like its predecessors. However, here the flow isn't as jarring and everything about each song, from the riffs to the bass lines and drums, has been vamped to the max of technicality and sheer brutality. So, in my own interest (as I am not a fan of track by track analysis), I am going to keep this short and say that if you want to see what's awesome about this record's specifics, listen to it yourself! The only thing I can tell you is that the mastering and production is much better, with the vocals set behind the music a bit more (this is better, I feel, as it's closer to what the actual live sound is). The instruments and gear used by the band were owned by a third party and were of higher quality, so in terms of the sound, it is much more convincing in the menace department.
Skeletonwitch stepped up their game, by playing better and making better riffs. Sure, not much has really changed, but given the niche that the Witch is looking to fill, that of a no nonsense extreme metal band, that's a-okay with me. As long as they don't add clean vocals or songs about being depressed, I'm fine. Just bring on a thick slab of metal and we're on.
One could argue that thrash metal died out a long time ago. However, consider the band Skeletonwitch of Athens, Ohio who could present a very cogent argument that is contrary to the popular belief and that it is very, very much alive and well. Forever Abomination on Prosthetic Records is their latest incendiary which contains 32 minutes of very polished, not overly produced blackened/thrash metal. So kick back and get owned by some straight-ahead thrash metal with memorable guitar solos at a blistering, face ripping pace.
The opening 30 second acoustic piece bares in sharp contrast to the madness that is to ensue for the listener as “This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)” kicks you in the face with metal that walks the line between black metal and thrash metal. “Erased and Forgotten” is a perfect example when a band can meld aggression and intersperse harmony as well to obtain an effective juxtaposition. The attitude cannot be understated on Forever Abomination as that is part of the appeal of thrash metal— when James Hetfield of Metallica shouted at one of their shows when Kill em All first dropped, “this song’s gonna kill all the fake people”, it was a direct threat at glam metal which is about as fake as you can get. There are no false pretenses here, only heavy doses of envenomed thrash metal injected straight to your veins.
Before my digression goes any further it should be made clear that Forever Abomination is best enjoyed as a whole body of work. The only shortcoming of this album is the one problem that hurts almost every other album of the genre and that is the lack of variety. This is just a minor imperfection seeing as this album ranks right up there with Toxic Holocaust’s Conjure and Command for thrash album of the year. Songs like “Cleaver of Souls” push this album onto another plateau with an incredible break down into a magnificent guitar solo that seems to contrast the grittiness of the endeavor or take the aptly titled “Shredding Sacred Skin” which has a very punctuated galloping groove. By the time the listener reaches “Sink Beneath Insanity” the charging beast seems to be running out of steam— but what ride it was.
What more can be said about Forever Abomination except that you should be checking it out and enjoying it right now. It’s clear to see that Skeletonwitch have solidified themselves as a band worthy to carry the thrash metal torch. Seems almost absurd that one must turn to the metal underground for bands that can generate a certain type of aggression and attitude that any other band in the mainstream can not for fear of being dropped by a label or alienating fans— but as long as music like this continues to be made, the metal world will continue to prosper. Hails to the real metal crusaders of the underground!
Originally Written for Adequacy.net: