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This tiny EP here is actually the second release from melodic black thrashers Skeletonwitch, the powerful quintet from Athens, Ohio. After their solid yet flawed At One with the Shadows the Witch longed for further domination of the American underground metal scene, so they unleashed this twelve-minute recording of brand new material, empowered with better production and better artwork than their debut, courtesy of well known Baroness’ frontman, Mr. John Dyer Baizley. Three of the four songs contained here would later appear on their tour-de-force sophomore Beyond the Permafrost, in my opinion their best album so far. The fourth song would end up being the sole unique feature of this EP, and hasn’t been re-recorded or appeared somewhere else yet.
It all starts with next album’s title-track, “Beyond the Permafrost” itself. The production is clearer yet as meatier as on At One with the Shadows. It works out pretty fine, we can enjoy all instruments loud and clearly and Chance Garnett’s demonic vo-kills as well, especially his deeper growls, which weren’t that great on the previous record, probably because of its mediocre production. However, this version of the song sounds slower and blunter than the version of the album it gives its title. Also, the drumming is simpler, since Derrick Nau’s skills were better than before but would end up improving even more on subsequent releases. If you listen to both versions of the song, you will notice several great fills and percussion flourishes missing on the Worship the Witch EP incarnation, as well as a less compelling guitar tone, more evident in the solos. This is also the case for the other two songs on this release that were later re-recorded, “Fire from the Sky” and “Feast Upon Flesh”.
So that leaves us with the closer, “Forever in the Abyss”. It starts with a calm yet sinister acoustic guitar intro, and it slowly builds up; it stirs and stretches like an unholy fiend rising from a putrid grave. A somber melodic guitar ensues, backed up with slow drumming, and then, at around 1:19 into the song, a thrashier riff kicks in as the speed increases and Garnett’s spews forth guttural blasphemy in death metal fashion. Finally, all Hell breaks loose around 1:55 with a manic Chance Garnett high-pitched blood-chilling scream that would make Dani Filth blush, and faster pacing. The solo quickly follows, and it feels quite NWOBHM-inspired, as it normally happens with this excellent band’s brand of melodic extreme metal. And then the song ends a bit abruptly, leaving the listener craving for more. That has always been my complain with some of Skeletonwitch’s tunes, yet in that manner they ensure that you stay hooked and gives all of their releases a high replay value.
In a nutshell, the Worship the Witch EP is non-essential stuff, and only if you consider yourself a total Skeletonwitch fervent follower you might need this for completion’s sake. In fact, I do consider myself such a follower yet I won’t buy this save for a very low price. The artwork and the fourth track are the highlights here, but this is not remotely as good as the band’s following full-length’s.