Skeletonwitch
Serpents Unleashed

After giving the Prosthetic records debut of Skeletonwitch, Beyond the Permafrost a relatively lukewarm review, I simply didn’t give the band’s follow ups, Breathing the Fire or Forever Abomination, the time of day, despite the band growing immensely in popularity with their modern, black thrash meets melodic death metal spin off. I simply lumped them in with 3 Inches of Blood as another old/new metal act, and I only have room for one 3 Inches of Blood in my life.

But being the consummate professional that I am, and having recently rather enjoyed the recent second album from similar-ish act Battlecross, another act I simply didn’t previously care for, I decided to give these denim clad Ohioans another shot to see if they clicked. And fucking click they did.

Now, seeing as I have not heard the previous two albums, I can’t say where the material stands comparatively speaking, so this progression may have been in the works, but on Serpents Unleashed I’m hearing much more of a black metal influence than a forced retro thrash tone only slightly flicked with black metal. Short, direct songs and a really nice blend of blackened melodic riffs and along with a stout Kurt Ballou production makes the tracks leap off the disc with an energy I simply either overlooked or was dressed up in a little too much forced retro-isms.

Standout 5th track “Burned From Bone” is the track that initially got my attention and made me check out the album in its entirety, it’s a rollicking, fun track that physically made me throw up the horns with its deft slicing melody. So then that track led me to and enjoy to the likes of “I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)”, melancholy gallop of “From a Cloudless Sky” and melodic canter of “Unending, Everliving”, no nonsense “This Evil Embrace”, high octane thrasher “Unwept” and sinister, Dissection-y black sheen of “Born of the Light That Does Not Shine”. Album closer “More Cruel Than Weak” is a whopping 4 minutes and comes with a breather by way of an acoustic intro but then sort of fizzles and meanders, losing some of the album’s direct, straight for the throat intensity, it’s like the band weren’t sure how to end the album, considering the previous 25 minutes of kickass.

At a shade over 1/2 an hour, Serpents Unleashed pops in, says it piece and buggers off leaving you wanting a little more but still grinning from ear to ear. There is barely a wasted note on the album as the band hone in on sharp catchy riffs and a tangible energy that’s as contagious as their live show (so I’m told).

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 5th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: j.d.

    Caught them live several years ago, they ripped, but their material didn’t hold up on disc. I’ve heard the “Burned from Bone” though, and it sounds awesome. Can’t wait to hear the rest of this.


  2. Commented by: Staylow

    This is easily their best work since their Prosthetic debut, which I absolutely loved, Though to me, I don’t hear a lot of progression in their sound, just a sharpening of their skills. Nice write up, Erik. You should seek out Breathing the Fire, it was also pretty good.


  3. Commented by: Noch

    I’m big on SKELETONWITCH and I gotta admit although this one is pretty stellar for what it is, it doesn’t kick the ass of “Breathing the Fire” in any sort of manner- I’m finding some of the riffs here functional, but a lot less memorable. I don’t think it’s as essential as their previous material, but that’s only me and my extremely nitpicky train of thought.


  4. Commented by: F.Rini

    Erik-killer review, we both agree. Album is brutal, melodic, catchy and they are cool dudes, not a bunch of dick heads. They know how to craft songs and write music that sticks in your head!


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