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All Hail the Witch! - 90%

DMK, April 2nd, 2008

Been waiting for the first truly memorable thrash band from the so called new wave of thrash bands?! Well look no further then Skeletonwitch. Their Prosthetic debut, Beyond the Permafrost is easily the best post 2000 thrash album from a thrash metal band that wasn’t actually around in the 80’s. These guys have seemingly summoned the spirit of everything that made 80’s thrash great and stuffed it into a slick, thrashing, melodic, face melting disc. Beyond the Permafrost promises great things from this young band as they shred through 12 tracks of speedy, melodic blackened thrash metal. With influences ranging from black metal (especially on vocals) to NWOBHM (just listen to track 12) these guys manage to pack hooks in by the dozen, and leave everything in it‘s path obliterated.

The music definitely has the 80’s NWOBHM galloping quality to it, mixing it in with the speed picking of thrash’s heyday to great success. Derrick Nau’s drum work is good, but seems mostly just hanging out behind the massive wall of guitar sound. Which leads me to the riff masters themselves, Nate Garnett and Scott Hedrick, the real stars of the show. Their riffing is unbelievably tight and fast, but never at the expense of melody, as it runs rampant throughout the disc.

There are definitely some memorable tracks on the album, including the shred-tastic opener “Upon Black Wings“, the title track, “Beyond the Permafrost“, the violent “Sacrifice for the SlaughterGod“, the progressive “Cast into the Open Sea“, and the apply titled “Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery”.

And that isn’t even mentioning the mini epic that closes the album (clocking in at just over 4 min.), the Iron Maiden inspired “Within my Blood” that sends the album out on a high note and leaves you wishing for more. This song alone is worth listening to multiple times, especially since the first time around you’ll probably miss Eric Harris’ mini bass solo at around the 2 minute mark.

The album isn’t without it’s problems however. The mix on Beyond the Permafrost is questionable as the guitars are prominently featured, leaving the vocals, and at times, the drums in the dust. Which in my opinion is a real shame because the weakness of the bass drum on the album actually affects the album's “heaviness“. Chance Garnett’s vocals are pretty solid, ranging from black metal shrieks to death metal lows. But don’t worry about the vocals being so low in the mix, because upon repeated listens, the vocals become slightly more audible, and really do add to the music. Another problem, especially the first couple times you spin the disc is that the album seems to drag, especially in the middle towards the end. But most of the songs clock in at just over 3 minutes, which doesn’t allow much time for any one song to become too stale. Repeat listens will remedy this problem somewhat, as you’ll no doubt discover melodies and hooks on songs that you didn’t even notice the first time around.

Overall, this is for fans of thrash metal and all metal fans in general. As others have pointed out before me, Beyond the Permafrost is without a doubt the thrash album of 07, and easily in the top 10 of best metal albums of the year (2007). Pick this one up immediately and raise the horns in appreciation of this amazing metal album. Hail!