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A Frozen Barrel of Monkeys - 88%

KyleShepard, December 27th, 2009

Beyond the Permafrost was probably the best impulsive buy I've made in recent memory. The only thing that lead me to get it was the pretty cool cover art and the fact that Skeletonwitch is probably the coolest name for a band ever. Lucky for me, it kicks ass! Skeletonwitch play an interesting blend of blackened thrash with a heavy emphasis on melody.

The most prominent factor of Beyond the Permafrost is the song writing and song structuring. Seems like a really redundant thing to say, but here it couldn't be more true. Every song is a little over 3 minutes and are filled to the brim with balls-out thrash riffs and melodies, and despite being so short, almost all of the songs progress quite nicely without mindless riff repetition. Cast Into the Open Sea is a great example of this. It begins as a fast thrasher and ends as an extremely melodic note, and does this without any ridiculous shifts in tempo. It just flows really well, as do all of the songs. The problem with this formula regardless of how well it works is that it makes the songs run together. Even after listening to this album for 6 months I still have trouble recognizing one song from another, which doesn't really matter that much since they're all pretty damn good.

The vocals deserve a mention here, as Chance Garnett mainly uses blackened shrieks and growls, and often switches back and fourth between the two in a single song. Lyrically, there are about three main themes present, ranging from begging for mercy, gore, and coldness, or a combination of the three. Obviously the lyrics aren't meant to be taken very seriously, and are actually pretty laughable at how ridiculous they are. Not that you should expect epic poetry from a band named Skeletonwitch, but it does add to the "fun factor" of it all.

The production here fits quite nicely . The guitars do have a pretty great, bitey tone, and they still manage a nice crunching sound whenever the music slows down. The bass is pretty much indecipherable, and probably only exists for the sake of heaviness, so not really much to talk about there. Surprisingly, you can actually interpret what is being screeched or growled quite coherently, which is always a plus. The drumming is good I suppose. It's usually a constant wall of double bass of blasting, but it slows down when necessary, and doesn't do anything distracting, but also nothing really worth mentioning. Skeletonwitch doesn't fall victim to overproduction here either. The sound is very natural and believable.

Overall, Beyond the Permafrost is a great thirty minutes of fun thrashing. It's not meant to be taken to be taken too seriously, but it's not necessarily a joke either, as they are obviously capable of writing great music. I can't really suggest individual tracks, because they are all pretty much the same, but I would recommend Beyond the Permafrost to anyone interested in having a good subzero thrashing.