Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Skeletonwitch - At One With the Shadows

Skeletonwitch have come a long way since their debut full-length album, At One With the Shadows, headlining tours in an explosion of what seemed to be overnight cult fame. But what did The Witch sound like before signing with Prosthetic Records? The physical CD being out of print now, At One With the Shadows marks the first audio release by the band, as their first release was a live DVD sold at shows on their first tour.

Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
Label: Shredded Records
Release Date: August 11th, 2004
  1. Skullsplitter
  2. Every Rotten Corpse Shall Burn
  3. Vengeance Will Be Mine
  4. At One With the Shadows
  5. Baptized in Flames
  6. No Rest for the Dead
  7. Onward to Battle
  8. Within My Blood
  9. Tragedy of Days
Total Playtime: 30 minutes, 38 seconds




Rating: 7.0/10




Skeletonwitch have come a long way since their debut full-length album, At One With the Shadows, headlining tours in an explosion of what seemed to be overnight cult fame. But what did The Witch sound like before signing with Prosthetic Records? The physical CD being out of print now, At One With the Shadows marks the first audio release by the band, as their first release was a live DVD sold at shows on their first tour.

"The Skullsplitter" barges through the speakers with heart pounding drums and lightning fast shredding that is enough to start melting the ears of any metalhead. Unfortunately, the production quality here is piss poor and any ounce of depth or bass is sucked dry from the content, leaving it hollow with a cardboard feel. Attending a live concert would most likely fair better quality-wise. However, once this barrier is scaled and with the use of some imagination, the actual content that lies within is decent.

Unique to many of the other thrash metal records out there, this album holds a place for acoustic segments in a few tracks... namely "The Skullsplitter", "Onward to Battle" and "Tragedy of Days". These tight, refreshing breaks are akin to the fluid slower tempo solos scattered throughout the material. Not to say that there aren't any finger melting fast solos, one of the best being in "Baptized in Flames", because there are plenty to go around.

Chance Garnette's vocals are brought to shame in At One With the Shadows due to the poor production quality. Noise-filled froth is the result from higher pitched parts which clash horrendously with the lead treble-ridden guitar, and the track overall is too loud over the suffering muffle of the instruments. There are the rare times that this works out in favor of Skeletonwitch, the lead guitar begins a howling solo that binds with the vocals and creates a small mesh between the two.


"The Skullsplitter" and "Onward to Battle" would later go on to become two out of three tracks on a demo following this release. Alongside "Within My Blood", "Baptized in Flames" and "Vengeance Will Be Mine" reincarnated onto a later full-length record entitled Beyond the Permafrost. With good reason as well, as all of the tracks just listed are stronger of this material. "Within My Blood" has one of the most highly recognizable introductory hooks of any Skeletonwitch song; furious alternating picking layers over a snare/bass drum beat before coming to a short, slower bridge and alternating this composure throughout the majority of the track, leaving some fast areas extended for majority.

Though with the aforementioned tracks, the importance of "Every Corpse Shall Burn" and the title track "At One With the Shadows" shouldn't be forgotten. Both of these songs have equally memorable riffs, picking patterns and catchy drum beats. One of the most melodious solos from this content exists within "At One With the Shadows", and the lyrics are backed beat-wise by both the guitar and drum tracks.

Unfortunently, there is not much to comment on when it comes to the bass. What can be heard in some of the better quality songs such as the title track really does a great job in chaining the guitar and drums together with some walking bass lines, but the majority of At One With the Shadows just has a ball of muffled bass sitting under the rest of the tracks.

A solid debut release hindered by production value, this album has some incredibly memorable content and is the foundation of what Skeletonwitch built themselves off of. Showing this by incorporating various songs into later releases, even "Tragedy of Days" made a come back on Forever Abomination as a bonus track. It's good to hear Skeletonwitch incorporating their roots into later material, and At One With the Shadows reminds us of those roots.

If you want that underground old school thrash metal production quality atmosphere, then this release should be at the top of your to-hear list, otherwise later content is a better representation of just how powerful these songs really are.

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