Ohio-based Skeletonwitch has been around since 2003, having two independent releases already out (“At One With The Shadows” of 2004 and the EP “Worship The Witch” of 2006),
so in spite of this album being their first release to a larger audience, they’re not entirely new to the trade.
With a mixture of really aggressive Black Metal “screams”, Death Metal growls, thrashy guitars and fast paced numbers they really try to kick ass, and to some extent they succeed, a lot of the tracks could be a serious threat to your neck muscles, if you get my point.
They seem to be somewhat inspired by (earliest) Metallica in composing, although maybe not quite getting there (yet), but they’re not trying to rip off M., instead it seems they’re trying to incorporate some of the qualities of M. into their own way of composing. The numbers are generally very short for thrash (11 of 13 between 2:16 and 3:16), and this makes my general impression rather hectic - they don’t dwell very much with the many good riffs and lets them evolve.
One of the reasons that I don’t rate this higher, is that I’m not too keen on the Black/Death Metal vocal style (to put it nicely), and on top of that the “vocals” is rather monotone all through the album. The drumming is very straight forward, fast and tight, but just battering along keeping the pace high, but without really adding something to the compositions. This album lives mostly because of the fast and furious guitar playing (Including some catchy melodies I might add), it sounds a lot like both European and Bay Area old school Thrash with a hint of NWOBHM.
Also the mixing has turned out generally a bit thin in the sound, so this is certainly metal, but it never gets very heavy.
All this makes me think: “Too bad”, because there’s some very good ideas/riffs and rhythm guitar work, but in my opinion the rest unfortunately is not up to the standard.
(I really like the very cool artwork by John Dyer Baizley, reminding me a bit of some of the Metallica T-shirts of the late 80’s - if you like his style on the album cover, go check out some more at his MySpace: