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The best kept secret in music


""Skeletonwitch is Undergound Gold""

Another one to remember. This is only the second time ever I have received a promo out of the blue and it has turned out to be actually cool. (Funeral Age was the other one, if you're wondering). Skeletonwitch are a never-heard-of-them band out of Ohio here in my native land, and they have a pretty damned good debut on their hands that is sure to make some underground waves.

Starting with a Children Of Bodom-ey style of highly melodic, speedy Death Metal, Skeletonwitch add a lot of energy and a kick of old-school Thrash riffiness to arrive at a derivative but highly entertaining sound. Truth be told, there is not much here you have not heard from other bands before. You get energetic and catchy riffs, speedy and tasty leadwork, and one-dimensional rasping scream vocals. Yet Skeletonwitch put it all together with such verve and attitude that I can't stop spinning this disc. As I said, the vocals don't really do much for me, as they are of the faceless neo-Black Metal rasp school, but they can't distract me from such cool music. From the opening lick of "The Skullsplitter" there is not a dull moment on this CD, and that is a remarkable feat for a brand-new band. The production is good, if not great, but much better than many demo-level recordings, and the band sounds tight. The art on the CD is even cool – far superior to anything Cauldron Born ever got, that's for sure.

So Skeletonwitch impress with their very first outing, and this shall be a band to look for in the future. If they can preserve this kind of momentum they should go far indeed. If you like Children Of Bodom at all, or thrashy melodic Death Metal in general, then you definitely should check out this band. They aren't reinventing the wheel here, but this is a hugely enjoyable CD nonetheless. Skeletonwitch is underground gold. -

""Like Being Tossed Into A Centrifuge""

Don’t you love it when an absolutely stellar band just sneaks up on you?

Before they took the stage (you could take that literally in this case) at Club Rockit(in Toronto for those who don't live here), I didn’t know who they were. A band hasn’t made such an instant impact on me live like this is a while so of course I had to tell you folks about them.

At One With The Shadows is the debut album from Skeleton Witch from Athens, Ohio, yes I said debut.

What we have here is a 30 minute hellstorm of an album, Skeleton Witch combine elements of thrash, black metal, NWOBHM, and melodic death metal in order to create a hyper-aggressive and intense mesh that will full kick your ass and you will enjoy said ass kicking. This album has everything, crushing bass lines, great guitar work in the form of some monster riffs, maidenesque harmonies, drumming that feels you’ve been tossed into a centrifuge, and Chance’s primal screams work nicely as your own personal usher to the gates of hell.

I only have 2 real issues with this album and those are it’s too damn short, I want more Skeleton Witch dammit. The second is the production level, which really isn’t all that bad, maybe a tad bass heavy, but it’s not enough that it effects the listener’s enjoyment of the album.

As mentioned before this album has something pretty much any metal fan should enjoy, it’s most definitely worth a listen or five, they’re amazing live, and if you can get your hands on this album I strongly suggest you do so. -

"At One With the Shadows"

With an album name like "At One With The Shadows", you would think the band would be called Car Thief, Burglar, or even Ninja. But alas, we get a fine band monicker with Skeletonwitch. Go ahead, say it a few times. It has a great ring to it, although I don't know how you can shorten it for easy audience chants...maybe just Witch...Witch...Witch, but there is already a band called Witch. Maybe just Skeleton, but that doesn't have quite the same lively feel. I guess the boys will need to work on the concert interaction aspect of their band name. In the meantime, it looks like these Athens, Ohio natives have been working hard creating their first impression, that ever important debut album, which can shape the band's entire career.

"At One With The Shadows" marks the band's recording debut, courtesy of Cincinnati's Shredded Records. Skeletonwitch list their influences as Overkill, Vio-lence, early Slayer, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, and a few other notable 80s groups. Upon first listen of "AOWTS", I can hear all of those influences, from the shredding thrash stomp of Overkill, the chaotic hardcore sounds of Vio-lence, and the twin guitar jams of Iron Maiden. There are plenty of bands right now that are hopping on the Gothenburg sound, led by forerunners In Flames, Killswitch Engage, and Avenged Sevenfold. In a way, Skeletonwitch fit that mold, but they take it deeper than just downtuned chugging with the roaming new wave melody. They really do possess that early 80s approach, from the galloping thrash riffs, the new wave melody, the tight stop-and-go drumming, and the production, which in a lot of ways reminds me of the early Bay Area scene with it's garage wattage.

My biggest concern however is in the vocal department, managed by frontman Chance Garnette. Garnette's vocals are unfortunately very much like Cradle Of Filth's leading man, Danni Filth, who to me has always sounded like Mariah Carey caught in a bear trap. Just inhuman, high pitched screams that do little in the way of creating emotion or drama within the tracks. You really can't hear Garnette as anything more than a distraction with these songs. So I ask myself, which audience will buy this product? If the power metal fans are invited to the sale by the group's indications they are deeply rooted in the old school sound, will they be thrown by the black metal vocals? Or if the casual black arts listener hears Garnette's ear piercing, blackened scream, will they be thrown off by the traditional music?

Regardless of the band's core listener intentions, "AOWTS" is a good record filled with classic nods to the old school way of thinking. All nine tracks are filled with pounding rhythm, twin guitar harmony, and Lombardo styled drumming. There are plenty of songs to like here, with several cuts sounding like early Overkill, Slayer, and even at times the mighty Exciter, who may be kings of B metal. The problem for me is that I just can't pick up a song and say it sounds any different than the others, which is where Garnette's voice really dampens my hopes for consistent spins. If we had a classic singer like The Blitz, Dan Beehler, or Neil Turbin, then this would work perfectly. But unfortunately, these aren't classic vocals, and I'm sure Skeletonwitch never intended them to be. This is the style of play they enjoy, and they fill that this vocalist accomplishes their vision. I am just wishing we could get a singer to step up to the plate with some of these newer bands, one that understands people want to hear lyrics, they want to sing along, and that is simply impossible to do with this type of vocal delivery. It would be like singing along to my blender, wash machine, or any other household appliance. Nevertheless, this is a fine musical debut, and one that can land the band near the top tier of America's newest mainstream acts.

Note - This is probably the best album cover of 2004.

"At One With the Shadows"

These creepy sons of Satan coulda just sent me an empty jewel case and I still would have given them a hearty recommendation, because I fuckin’ LOVE their deranged moniker. Skeleton Witch! Besides naming themselves after a cheesy (and senseless) Halloween prop, these Athens, Ohio-based cool-ghouls are finely-honed death technicians, and on this neck-snapping ode to the dark and all the red-eyed creatures that lurk in it, they crank out a vicious squall of Satanic-panic noise, half proto-thrash metal, half-contemporary death/black-ness. This is much more of a delicate balance than it sounds, and the corpse-painted screech of the cleverly named Chance Garnette at first seems at-odds with the 80’s fried thrash n’ roll of the songs. Like if Dani Filth crept up on the Blitz with his little vampire fingers at an Overkill show in 1985 and grabbed the mic from him, or something. But unless yr Overkill (and only like, 4 of you are), what’s the difference? Death happens, so ya get lots of growling and howling and barking and the aforementioned devil-screech. You also get some truly manly riffing, furious twin-axe battles that are the stuff of black leather and flying bat-skulls and guys wrapped in bullet belts swinging maces around. Which is pretty much exactly what you’d expect form a band named Skeleton Witch, right? Right. Turn the crosses upside down and the volume knob all the way up for this one, sinner. -

""Skeleton Witch is Mercyful Fate Gone Nuclear""

Skeletonwitch take the true metal tenet written by their exalted forefathers back when the dam began to burst ’79, then add a dash of Bay Area Thrash and off they go. They are a tighter than a bull’s asshole during fly season and run only second to the mighty Slough Feg in awe-inspiring precision metal execution.

The vocals of Chance Garnette is where Skeletonwitch really leave the pack. The man is headed down a forked road – one leads to throat polyps, the other an aneurysm. Personally I prefer vocals that are intelligible and mid-range, but I admit Chance adds personality to the band. Plus it’s like a passing car wreck. It’s hard to stop even though your gut tells you you probably should, and in a weird, wrong way, you somehow enjoy it. Skeletonwitch is Mercyful Fate gone nuclear.

Worship The Witch is a worthy four track follow-up to the equally enjoyable full-length At One With The Shadows. If you are an aficionado of good ‘ol heavy metal and want a new kick, you can’t go wrong with the ‘Witch. -


Worhship the Witch (EP, 2006)
At One With the Shadows (LP, 2004)


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