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Skeletonwitch broke out in the metal scene with their recent full-length, Beyond the Permafrost, but their other releases seem to be just about impossible to find. Having enjoyed the aforementioned album, I was curious about the band’s previous output, which brought me to this EP, Worship the Witch. It seems that this EP was released in preparation for their sophomore album because three out of the four songs on this EP also appear on Beyond the Permafrost. Thus, the question is whether or not the three shared songs sound better on this EP or if the extra song is good enough to justify this release. My conclusion is that, while the EP isn’t bad, it doesn’t have much to offer that you can’t find on the album.
First, the three songs that the two releases share appear here sounding almost identical to the album versions except that they appear here with worse production. The songs are still pretty good, but the production here is a little muddier. Also, I was irritated by the guitar leads’ tone, a problem that is worse here than on the album. The album also featured a headache-inducing lead guitar tone on the already weak solos, but this problem is only magnified here. Thus, the first three tracks, while still enjoyable, sound much better on the album.
That leaves only “Forever in the Abyss.” The track features all the elements that characterize Skeletonwitch: catchy riffs, diverse vocal styles, and driving drumming. Also, unlike other Skeletonwitch songs, “Forever in the Abyss” features a pretty good atmospheric intro. However, the song doesn’t seem to go anywhere from that promising beginning. The band moves into playing some decent riffs, but the song doesn’t really build up effectively so the solo and ending seem to come out of nowhere. This song probably needed a few more passages and rewrites, so it definitely doesn’t justify the release.
As completely superfluous as Worship the Witch is destined to be, the songs are still thrashy and enjoyable. Skeletonwitch’s good qualities are apparent here, they just don’t seem to be as mature as they are on Beyond the Permafrost, though. For that reason, the album is destined, rightly, to overshadow this EP. Without this release, we might not have the excellent album, but that doesn’t make this EP any more enjoyable in comparison to the album; if you like Beyond the Permafrost, you’ll never listen to Worship the Witch and if you don’t like the album, you won’t like the EP. Even from a collector’s point of view, it seems pretty unnecessary.