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SkeletonWitch - Beyond the Permafrost - 91%

JoshLFM, February 17th, 2008

Forsaking the adage “out with the old…” the latest album by SkeletonWitch is a strong contribution to the current old-school metal resurgence in line with other recent releases by 3 Inches of Blood, Dekapitator, and Blood Tsunami, among others. The music itself flashes moments of thrash, black metal, death metal, and that classic NWOBHM gallop, but the predominant characteristic is speed. The vocals are unleashed in curdled black metal gurgles accompanied by occasional deeper growls.

Methodical, gradual-paced album intros are overrated; “Upon Wings of Black,” the opening track on Beyond the Permafrost, battering rams through an unlocked door, launching a blistering guitar solo within 2 seconds of pressing 4. In a battle of song titles, “Baptized in Flame” may not oust “Baptized in a Storm of Swords” (by Goatwhore) for the title of most metallic unholy rite of passage, but be that as it may, it still achieves blazing velocity capable of searing flesh with the Dark Lord’s seal. Track 7, “East into the Open Sea,” directs the album into darker waters as it drifts away from speed metal energy and relies more on traditional black metal bleakness. As a grand summarization, the closer, “Within My Blood,” makes millisecond transitions from a Maiden-esque stride, to disparaged black metal chords, to neck-snapping thrash.

Thrash and speed metal purists may be repelled by SkeletonWitch’s menacing death/black metal vocals, but if you like artists such as Immortal and Enslaved anywhere near as much as you love Master of Puppets, this is disc a pretty safe bet for frequent rotation.