Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed

This Fall will mark the tenth anniversary of hardened Ohio thrash veterans Skeletonwitch, and they certainly are not going to let it go unnoticed. The Witch are celebrating the occasion with their biennial Fall release, a fifth installment that has been crowned Serpents Unleashed, and they have promoted it relentlessly with specialized merchandise bundles that consist of limited edition items such as a signed tapestry, a vinyl mat, three different colored pressings of the album on vinyl and even small quantities of cassette prints. Although the group formed in 2003, Skeletonwitch hit the ground running with their 2009 release, Breathing the Fire, and they have been a hell storm of unrelenting fury since. Should you still be worshiping The Witch?

Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
Release Date: October 29th, 2013
  1. Serpents Unleashed
  2. Beneath the Dead Leaves
  3. I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
  4. From a Cloudless Sky
  5. Burned from Bone
  6. Unending, Everliving
  7. Blade on the Flesh, Blood on My Hands
  8. This Evil Embrace
  9. Unwept
  10. Born of the Light That Does Not Shine
  11. More Cruel Than Weak
Total Playtime: 31 minutes, 41 seconds




Rating: 10/10



This Fall will mark the tenth anniversary of hardened Ohio thrash veterans Skeletonwitch, and they certainly are not going to let it go unnoticed. The Witch are celebrating the occasion with their biennial Fall release, a fifth installment that has been crowned Serpents Unleashed, and they have promoted it relentlessly with specialized merchandise bundles that consist of limited edition items such as a signed tapestry, a vinyl mat, three different colored pressings of the album on vinyl and even small quantities of cassette prints. Although the group formed in 2003, Skeletonwitch hit the ground running with their 2009 release, Breathing the Fire, and they have been a hell storm of unrelenting fury since. Should you still be worshiping The Witch?

Serpents Unleashed is a ruthless barrage of blackened thrash metal at its ultimate best. The material meshes melodic qualities from Forever Abomination with the fierce brutality of Breathing the Fire all the while wrapping it up into a package of explosive napalm by incorporating the satanic overtones that were possessed by At One With the Shadows. Skeletonwitch as a whole are revitalized in sound without sacrificing the signature styles of each individual member; a feat that very few bands during this age of metal are able to pull off. Another key point of the content... the louder, the fucking better.

The instrument that becomes immediately noticeable as the album kicks off with its title track is the bass. This time around the mixing has allowed for the bass lines to float atop the guitar tracks and it provides an entirely new hard hitting layer of destruction to the content. Evan Linger has created deep, grooving lines that are innovative to the thrash genre, his bass compositions slithering and winding through the gaps between the guitars and drums to fill them with skillful rhythmic lows. One of the most malevolent points of the material can be attributed to the bass in "Blade on the Flesh, Blood on my Hands", where the guitar and vocal tracks fade away and leave a grueling, thumping bass solo that walks a quick pace alongside an occult drum solo; the two melting together into an evil embrace of instrumental love making.


Nate Garnette unleashes an unending onslaught of originative rhythm guitar riffs throughout all eleven tracks of content. The listener will find themselves being bombarded with tastefully placed snippets of tremolo picking and ripping power riffs that are elaborate and well structured with galloping triplets, liquefying strumming and chilling picking patterns; all which are comprised of an imaginative composure. Not only are the rhythm guitar sections unique, but they're memorable and create lasting impressions such as what is heard in "I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)". Scott Hedrick fills the void with his enthralling leads where ever Nate may leave off, his solos being of a light distortion and twangy heavy metal inspiration while the filler bridges and other incorporations are lightning fast, crunchy and entertaining.

Although this is only the second album appearance by Dustin Boltjes, he has proven his worth in the ranks of The Witch for another round, more so this time. His drumming has definitely kicked up a notch or ten on the scale of kick-ass, as his blast beats are a pummeling assault of machine gun execution. It helps that the bass drum is at the front of the layering on the album, while his toms follow in at a close second and the snare sits right under them. The hi-hats and cymbals tend to stick to the background during most of the content, which gives a refreshing and much needed layering to the drum track. Though blast beats have been mentioned, do not make the mistake in thinking that this album is backed by nothing but your standard thrash-n-bash patterns. Dustin packs a surplus of mind blowing beats, nefarious rhythms and molten rolls, rarely resorting to reusing any composition and he throws in blast beats only for emphasis during the most face melting of times.

The candles on the black alter, the pentagram on the goat head, the jalapenos in the enchilada, Chance Garnette's vocals are what any Witch worshiping metal maniac would come to expect at this point; and this isn't a bad thing. Chance is back with his signature fusion of gritty black metal snarls and characteristic growls, and his envisioned lyrics of demons, Satan, murder, death and other dark arts have come with him. Each lyric is accurately placed and elongated in all of the right areas, growls are added in with an artistic brutality and vocal rests are allowed so that the instruments can take over the listener.

While your ears are pouring blood and the sub-woofer is tearing your flesh from bone, Serpents Unleashed will undoubtedly keep you cranking the volume knob; this album absolutely cannot be listened to loud enough. Putting your head through the speaker will not make this album loud enough. Every track unloads a different experience into the catacombs of Skeletonwitch that have yet to be heard before, the band are more evil than ever and have returned with a creative, inspired, brutal and soul crushingly evil vengeance. Should you still be worshiping The Witch? Two words... fuck yes.

Digital Download Provided by: Earsplit PR

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