Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: Skeletonwitch - Beyond the Permafrost

Skeletonwitch are a five piece thrash metal band from Athens, Ohio. Formed since 2003, the band had released one demo, one EP and one full-length prior to Beyond the Permafrost. The releases had contained re-distributed content with minimal new material to be experienced. On this second full-length installment, the track list is compiled of an even mixture of six old songs that have been re-done featuring the at-the-time current line up, and six new tracks awaiting to be unveiled to anticipated fans everywhere.

Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
Label: Prosthetic Records
Release Date: October 2nd, 2007
  1. Upon Wings of Black
  2. Beyond the Permafrost
  3. Baptized in Flames
  4. Sacrifice for the Slaughtergod
  5. Vengeance Will Be Mine
  6. Limb from Limb
  7. Cast into the Open Sea
  8. Fire From the Sky
  9. Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery
  10. Remains of the Defeated
  11. Feast Upon Flesh
  12. Within My Blood
Total Playtime: 36 minutes, 20 seconds




Rating: 7.5/10






Skeletonwitch are a five piece thrash metal band from Athens, Ohio. Formed since 2003, the band had released one demo, one EP and one full-length prior to Beyond the Permafrost. The releases had contained re-distributed content with minimal new material to be experienced. On this second full-length installment, the track list is compiled of an even mixture of six old songs that have been re-done featuring the at-the-time current line up, and six new tracks awaiting to be unveiled to anticipated fans everywhere.

The production quality on this release is by far the highest of any Skeletonwitch album at the time of original debut. Some have found the quality to be rather low, but in comparison to their first full-length record, At One With the Shadows, the production is far superior. This is a highly important contributing factor to take into consideration when given the contents that awaits herein, "Baptized in Flames", "Vengeance Will Be Mine", "Feast Upon Flesh" and "Within My Blood" all originated from At One With the Shadows. "Beyond the Permafrost" and "Fire From the Sky" (also on the demo) were on the EP released previous to this full-length, along side another rendition of "Feast Upon Flesh".

Given the abominable quality of At One With the Shadows, it is easy to see why Skeletonwitch would want to re-release some of the stronger material from their debut album, and thankfully this time it worked out in the bands favor. Chance Garnette gives a beefier vocal performance having perfected his deep, beastly growls and gruff singing. In earlier versions of these songs, his vocal style took on a more high pitched shrieking than anything else, and this new presentation shows the fine tuning of his talents.


While examining the used content, "Baptized in Flames" got an introduction makeover that lets the track fade in gradually and "Within My Blood" gained an extension from being a 3:40 track to one that lasts for roughly 4:12. The rest are just audio quality upgrades that allow the listener to make sense of the once garbled bass lines. Eric Harris (now bassist for rising heavy metal stoner group, Huntress) makes his presence known, bringing with him groovy, crunchy, fast paced bass that gives a new depth to the tracks, a quality that was sorely absent on At One With the Shadows.

The new content is hit and miss. Of the six new tracks, the only real highlights are "Upon Black Wings" and "Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery". Swimming in unforgettable guitar riffs that bind themselves to the vocal patterns, this type of composure helps both elements compliment each other. There is also a previously unreleased B-Side included in some versions of this record, too bad "Bringers of Death" didn't make it into the original album track list, as it is one of more unique songs the band have produced and could have easily replaced forgettable songs such as "Cast Into the Open Sea".

A solid effort at a second full-length record, and while it is good to see a band that still pays homage to their roots this content probably would have fared better had the band saved the previously distributed content for later and let this new effort shine through all new material. Previous releases to this, such as Worship the Witch and their free Demo were full of repackaged older content that just ended up being rerecorded into half of the track listing on Beyond the Permafrost, leaving one not being able to help but feel slightly cheated. The new material that lies within is fairly lack luster save a few tracks here and there. If the listener hasn't heard At One With the Shadows, then the content present here will go a longer way as it will be fresh to them.

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