Come with me, dear readers. I have a special trip planned for us. Today, we are going to take a trip into the land of Blackened Thrash Metal via Ohio. What does Ohio have anything to do with Blackened Thrash, you might ask? Well, Ohio created SKELETONWITCH, with whom I have been following since their last album. I want to share what this band has created with you. Today though, we are here to explore the odd chasms of the northern darkness and Punk energy of SKELETONWITCH’s latest album, “Breathing The Fire”. Hold on tight, it’s going to be a headbanging ride.
All humor aside though, it’s damn hard not to like SKELETONWITCH as they combine the best parts of two genres (Black and Thrash if you have forgotten already) into an oddly hypnotic and energy splurging plunge that they have called “Breathing The Fire”. If you already have heard their earlier material and enjoyed it, then it’s a safe bet that you can just stop reading now and purchase this album. The band isn’t changing up too much from the last release.
For those of you whom haven’t had the glorious chance to experience SKELETONWITCH, then “Breathing The Fire” is a great place to start. As I stated multiple times now, they combine elements of the ever controversial Black Metal with a solid foundation and structure of Thrash. Since Black and Thrash are essentially cousins at heart (both can be traced to bands like VENOM and early CELTIC FROST) the merging can be quite smooth and explosive. This band melds them almost perfectly. Guitars will swiftly dive from quick wristed Thrash triplet riffs into insane tremolo picking with a sense of that atmospheric melody that never loses the energy. Throw under that a bass that can’t really be heard (but is quite solid) and those snare driven drums and this band just pours energy from every note whist keeping that sense of atmosphere. The vocalist, Chance Garnett, ranges his vocals from more guttural gurgles to the harsh hissing. It’s his presence on this album that really brings forth the Black in the music. All the while, SKELETONWITCH retains a catchiness normally saved for some of the bigger names in Thrash like EXODUS or TESTAMENT (just check out the chant along “Crushed Beyond Dust”). To state it simply: SKELETONWITCH plays Blackened Thrash and they play it well.
So if you are a newcomer to the likes of this band, then “Breathing The Fire” is a great place to start as you move your way back through their catalog (they are good enough that even moving backwards you won’t be disappointed) and if you are already a fan, then this album isn’t going to steer you off course. The band is truly on top of their game with this release and it’s refreshing to hear that.
Songs to check out: “Crushed Beyond Dust”, “Where The Light Has Failed”, “…And Into The Flame”.
(Online December 17, 2009)