Black Fast, on the strength of one of the strongest albums of 2018, Spectre Of Ruin (eOne) have added more dates to their one going tour. You can check out the schedule below and buy tickets and music from the band at their website. Continue reading
Skeletonwitch clawed their way to consciousness over a decade ago from the mid-west of the USA, into the underground. In the already competitive underbelly of American metal, the `Witch won over fans with heavy if straight-ahead blackened thrash metal albums, and countless incendiary live shows. The band worked hard was focused on their goals for years. Then former vocalist Chance Garnette’s issues causes him to exit the band and left many fans wondering what was next. Frontmen are often synonymous with the success of a band, so people were freaking out. Once the band announced Wolvhammer frontman Adam Clemans and released the first single ‘Well of Despair’ several months ago, they really charted a way forward. They toured heavily this spring and summer, and proved they can deliver their existing material to their fans. That first new track had most of the typical touchstones the band was known for, with Clemans’ scathing vocals on top of it. However, the band had something sneaky up their sleeve for the rest of the new EP, that this critic, nor their fans could not have foreseen.
Befitting its epic name, The Apothic Gloom (Prosthetic) is a harbinger of all kinds of horrors in the best kind of way. It’s ominous sounding, but also a mission statement by a band destined for further greatness. Vaulting over their previous output by leaps and bounds, they have injected a fierce new urgency in their songwriting. In the process have melded the best of black metal, melodic death metal, and thrash into a new strain, and re-birthed themselves. The riffs that Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette and Scott Hedrick have brought forth here are just un-godly. The title track on the EP is an incredible slab of brutality; as bleak as the best USBM bands, and as technical and memorable as the classic melo-death legends of all time. Clemans himself brings his harsh howls to the fore and does a fine job of further establishing his style at home in `the Witch.
Even though we have listened to ‘Well of Despair’ about 1000 times since our first review when the single dropped last spring, the track is still a great entree to this band. I used to hip friends of mine to Skeletonwitch with ‘Crushed Beyond Dust’, but now I’d use this song. On repeated listens this cut gets better and better. A little more akin to their old sound. Again, very clever to lead with this track before sharing the more complex and compelling tracks on the full EP.
‘Black Waters’ is my favorite track on the album. While it shares the lineage with the straight up style the band cut their teeth on, there is enough development in the riffs and lyrics to sink your teeth into. There is also some phenomenal bass lines by Evan Linger that calls to mind Rex Brown or Steve DiGiorggio. He has long been the secret weapon of the band, and when he locks in tightly with drummer Dustin Boltjes, it’s golden.
The final track ‘Red Death, White Light’ is a magnificent, hard-charging black/melo-death song. So many layers of sick, guitar-army quality licks are found here, I practically lost my shit while nerding out. I even hear a hint of the classical masterpiece Carmina Burana by Carl Orff in there, just leading to the pure evil sonics of the track. The song is unrelenting from start to finish, and really directs listeners to what the future of this band.
You can’t discuss this EP without mentioning the production work of Kevin Bernstein (Noisem, Mutilation Rites). Recording the band in his home base at Developing Nations Studio earlier this year, the band eschewed the rawness of current production trends and really let the power of the writing and their talents communicate this. The band made some bold choices: from the artwork, to the choice of Clemans, to the songcraft, to stepping out of their comfort zone to create something new and bold. By taking this final step, The Apothic Gloom (Prosthetic) sees Skeletonwitch leave many of their peers in the underground in the dirt, and are poised to be one of the leaders of American metal music for years to come.
[amazon asin=B01HG5C8NS&template=iframe image1]
After seven long years Destroyer 666 has finally released their fifth LP, Wildfire (Season of Mist Records). Usually a rather long dull in between releases is worrisome. Thankfully they did not lose a single step, in fact it feels that they’ve improved. As expected, they continues to push boundaries with their ability to blend Black and Thrash metal which continue to make them stand out. In my opinion, Wildfire is the masterpiece in their discography. I have always joked that Destroyer 666 spent absolutely no time deciding what their name will be, placing all focus on their sound. Glad to see that joke remains relevant.
As soon as you start the first track ‘Traitor’, you immediately know what you’re in for. After about a ten second classic metal scream, you’re treated as to what makes Destroyer 666 unique. ‘Traitor’ switching back and forth between Black and Thrash metal so fluently it still remains impressive after several spins. The second track ‘Live and Burn’ is a great example as to the sound they’ve created their own. What feels like sped up Black metal with a Thrash beat and gang vocals in the chorus. The next, ‘Artiglio Del Diavolo’, is obviously a showcase of their sound. Instrumental track that absolutely shatters the boundaries. This is the pinnacle of their sound.
The rest of the album remains on the same course. With lines blurred, this album grabs hold of you and never eases off to give you a moments rest. While this is essentially the same formula they have used in the past, it feels improved. Wildfire is a perfect example of that overused saying, “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”. I don’t feel that it will be a top 20 of 2016, but it’s definitely a contender to be one of the better releases this year. Truly the only really issue I have with this album is that I had to wait so long for it to be released. I guess you could argue you can’t rush near perfection.
[amazon asin=B01A22VCIE&template=iframe image1]
Fandom is a curious thing. People feel very intense about about a band and sometimes fret when there is a change. Bands change members all the time. That is the nature of people trying to play music for a living under mixed circumstances at the best of times. For thirteen years Skeletonwitch has been one of the most heavy and consistent bands in the American metal scene. They have made some great records, opened tours for major names, and spread their sound around the globe. Fans certainly didn’t want to accept the change when the band suspended and removed former singer Chance Garnette, due to his personal issues, and much chatter on line centered around the future prospects of new music. Cleverly the band didn’t reveal new vocalist Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer) until just recently and now have debuted the first new music with Adam, in the form of new single Well of Despair (Prosthetic).
Although this track s but a small taste of what is to be expected later this year in the form of a full EP, ‘Well of Despair’ was recorded at Baltimore’s Developing Nations with Kevin Bernsten (Noisem, Magrudergrind, Mutilation Rites) earlier this year. Musically the track is as much of a declaration of intent as anything else. Galloping drum beats pound from the speakers. All the things that made Skeletonwitch great, this track has it. It’s a quick slab of brutal thrashy black-metal inspired riffage that is sure to make fans headbang like mad and take notice. Clemmons sounds excellent. He has a gnarly growl and a lung power equal to Chance’s. It will be great to hear him tackle the back catalog during the forthcoming Decibel Tour with Abbath, High On Fire, and Tribulation. But ‘Well Of Despair’ is a powerful introduction to the next phase of the band. If you had any doubts about the future of the band, throw them out the window now!
[amazon asin=B01C6YSIL0&template=iframe image1]
Immortal was (or is, depending on its new lineup getting anything off the ground) one of the most intriguing acts in extreme music. A great deal of fans consider them a Norwegian black metal institution with a string of classics under their belts. For others they’re that borderline Spinal Tap band that have some of the most ridiculous promo pictures and music videos ever captured. For real, Norway, the music is great and all, but some of the message can be lost when you willingly pose yielding a plastic axe.
Maybe that’s why some turned have turned to crime? Anything for the arts.
But I digress. It’s not breaking news that in 2015, Immortal was on ice again and a brief legal battle ensued over the band’s trademark. Multi-instrumentalist founding member Olve Eikemo (or as we know him) Abbath walked away and pledged to work on his own music. The result is Abbath (Season of Mist), an eight song exercise in creative freedom and avoiding ugly litigation.
And allow me to immediately answer your query; it’s not as awesome as Battles in the North or Sons of Northern Darkness. And nor does it have to be. Since he is no longer under the weight of the Immortal legacy, Abbath is free to explore other things, namely his love of classic metal sounds. With Abbath’s death croak and drummer Creature peppering songs like ‘Winter Bane’ and ‘To War’ with double bass and the occasional blast beat they fall under extreme metal, but the structures are as traditional as they come. There’s even a sweet cover of Judas Priest’s ‘Riding on the Wind’ added as a bonus track.
But the Kvlt faithful need not worry, it’s not all New Wave of British Heavy Metal worship. ‘Eternal’ has enough blast beats to thaw any frozen heart and ‘Fenrir Hunts’ is highly reminiscent (in the best way) of the blackened death metal that Behemoth has been expertly brewing as of late.
And even for those who are too stubborn to appreciate Abbath because it doesn’t say Immortal on the cover or isn’t grim enough, they should respect that Abbath decided to step down. Why? Because he dropped the legal horseshit that would’ve jammed all parties involved and likely split the Immortal name into two lesser collectives. Need proof? What do you think about the recent work from Entombed A.D. or Queensryche and whatever Geoff Tate’s project is called?
[amazon asin=B018F36OH6&template=iframe image1]
It seems that for their debut on Metal Blade records, Germany’s Ketzer have performed a near-complete musical about face. Once firmly entrenched in the realm of blackened thrash, new album Starless sees them embrace punky black and roll.
Where 2009’s Satan’s Boundaries Unchained and 2012’s Endziet Metropolis were fast, furious and bludgeoning, Starless (Metal Blade) is barely recognizable as the same band. Instead, we’re given a fairly tame, mid-tempo mix of blackened vocals, occasional punk and post-metal atmospherics.
It’s this jumping around in tone that is probably the most baffling thing about the album. ‘When the Milk Runs Dry’ is a slow-paced (dangerously close to plodding) atmospheric number, while ‘Godface’ is pure three chord punk and almost strays into catchy territory. It’s not unpleasant, but the inconsistency of tone robs Starless of any cohesion.
‘Count to Ten’ literally does just that, ‘White Eyes’ boasts female choirs and almost jazzy guitar solos while managing to also be abrasive. The acoustic interludes of ‘The Hunger’ and ‘Silence and Sound’ are sandwiched in without really adding much to the mix. The 11-minute creep of ‘Shaman’s Dance’ unfortunately outstays its welcome, ending up rather more of a repetitive slog than anything epic.
It’s not a horrible listen, and there are enjoyable moments – ‘Godface’ and the searing rock of ‘Earthborn’ especially – but there’s a lot that just doesn’t really gel as a whole and it all sounds a bit confused.
Anyone looking for blackened thrash of previous efforts will be in for a shock and will find little familiarity to take solace in. At the same time, Ketzer’s new sound fails to really impress or excite enough to make the change seem like a good idea. Starless isn’t without its merits, but ultimately falls a bit flat.
[amazon asin=B019ETJVB6&template=iframe image1]
Skeletonwitch continues up their climb up the modern metal ladder. They seem to be a band generally liked by many, with no real haters as far as I can tell. Their infectious combination of blackened thrash metal frames them as a crossover act for fans of many genres of metal. It doesn’t hurt that they are a tight live act and a lot of fun to see on stage. Waiting patiently for a legit headline tour, not just off dates here and there, the band promised to reward faithful fans with a deep set list. I rolled with Ghost Cult photog Meg Loyal, and we got there early, mingling with a lot of Boston Metaldom’s usual suspects.
Starting things off right was Black Anvil. They immediately ripped Cambridge a new hole from the jump with the lively, caustic stage show and brutal sounds. I was an immediate fan of their album Hail Death (Relapse) which is a modern masterpiece, and it took me by surprise as the venerable NYDM and NYBM scene, although historically great, hasn’t turned out a band that really captured my heart a long time. I think even the early crowd in the venue was shocked at how killer their set was. They played with the energy and power of a headliner and really inspired the early crowd to move around a bit and hurt each other. This is a band definitely on the rise, so don’t sleep on them.
Ghoul is always a lot of fun live and they were the perfect band for the middle slot on this tour. Our heroes from Creepsylvania always come to party with GWAR-inspired fake blood, and all kinds of crazy characters as a part of their performance. More than anything, Ghoul is a killer band with sick chops playing a fun take on a deathly take on old-school Bay Area thrash metal. There were circle pits galore, crazy breakdown and mass hilarity ensued. They definitely had their own core of fans in the house based on all the Ghoul merch being sported (fail!), and also bought and toted (good job!). It’s rare that you laugh as much as you headbang at a show. GWAR (RIP Dave Brockie) is one band that has always done that for me and Ghoul carries on that tradition to the hilt. Do yourself a solid and go pick up their latest EP Hang Ten (Tankcrimes) or any of their albums really.
Time to die for the Witch! The thing I like about The Sinclair is they do run a tight ship. The change over was fast and the band hit the stage with a quickness. There isn’t a bad place to watch the show from in the entire room and I had a good spot. I was interested to see if the crowd had any energy left at all since the Ghoul set was a non-stop mosh-pit frenzy. When Skeletonwitch opened up with ‘I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)’, their past go-to closer, it was a glorious moment. It can be hard for bands to break their own mold and change things up, so kudos to them for that. This was a portend of things to come with an excellent set list of “hits” and deep cuts they promised.
And what a set is was! The band brandished their musical might this time with a relentless performance that definitely had the mark of greatness. The fans drank, danced, headbanged and screamed along with every word. Chance Garnette and crew whipped the crowd into a frenzy with cut after cut from their repertoire. Chance paced the stage, inciting more and more fury from the pit and the rest of the crowd. Even up in the rafters, you could see people were feeling it too. This was an awesome night rushing towards an awesome finish; as the band closed out the night with mostly old-school tracks. On this evening if you were in the house, you knew you were witnessing one of the ascendant bands in the American metal scene. Hailz!
Skeletonwitch Set List:
I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
More Cruel Than Weak
From a Cloudless Sky
Burned From Bone
Upon Wings of Black
Choke Upon Betrayal
Fire from the Sky
Stand Fight and Die
Beneath Dead Leaves
This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)
Crushed Beyond Dust
Cleaver of Souls
Beyond the Permafrost
Baptized in Flames
Limb from Limb
Of Ash and Torment
Within My Blood
Skeletonwitch on Facebook
WORDS: KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES
Over the years of listening to death metal, I have yet to be let down by any release by Cannibal Corpse. Arguably the biggest death metal band today, and after twelve previous releases, I wondered how much longer until a lackluster album would be released. Well, I have bad news. The streak continues! The thirteenth release from these titans, A Skeletal Domain (Metal Blade), has brought more violent, gory goodness that only Cannibal Corpse can create. However, what made this album stick out and not sound like “just another Cannibal Corpse album” was the sheer evil and eerie direction that the instrumentals and lyrics take you. ASkeletal Domain from start to end is a roller coaster of terror, aggression, and more blood than a pit of zombies.
It has been tough to mark down which songs have been my favorite as every song has its own feel and personality to it. I will mention a few, but keep in mind that I enjoy the rest of the tracks on record. It might be that I love (and laugh) at these song titles as well. The first single released, ‘Sadistic Embodiment’, really sets the course for the album. This track showcases what Cannibal Corpse is all about and then some. ‘Funeral Cremation’ was another stand out track for me with easily the creepiest opening to any song of theirs to date by ever so slightly dipping into the world of Blackened Death Metal. The guitar riff has given me goosebumps with every listen which is a rarity nowadays in a quite monotonous heavy metal world. The very next track may be my favorite off the album and certainly one of the best titles, ‘Icepick Lobotomy’. This song brings the brutality one would expect from death metal, but also stays groovy enough to keep your head banging. One last track I’d like to recommend is ‘Bloodstained Cement.’ This track starts off on a speed kick that is guaranteed to help your inner lead foot press the gas pedal just a tad harder. Then the song takes a heavy turn and actually makes you believe you are smashing some poor souls face off of the sidewalk.
A Skeletal Domain has shown the world that Cannibal Corpse is still on top of their death metal game and just how evil these guys can be. This album will certainly be in my considerations for album of the year in about three months from now. Despite all of the praise I have given this newest release, it didn’t make me say “Wow!” out loud as often as, say, Kill did. Having said that, I love the direction this album went and am happy to know that even after thirteen albums, these death metal gods are still capable of spreading their violent blend of metal. Cannibal Corpse has once again proven to me why I do not waste my time listening to Six Feet Under.
While on-stage, Chance Garnette may be the wrist-spikes-wearin’, mean growler of Ohio blackened thrashers Skeletonwitch. Once off the stage, however, the man is an affable character who laughs as often as he swigs beer. During the last stop (at The Firebird, St. Louis, Missouri,) of the band’s recent North American tour, Ghost Cult contributor Dane Prokofiev spoke to Garnette about, among other topics, the meaning of black metal, the role of humor in extreme metal, and of course, cats!
The band is fresh off of their celebrated US tour as support for Amon Amarth and Enslaved. The tour sold out many stops on the tour, in a time when some tours are having a hard time filling venues. Garnette shares his feelings on the success of the run:
“It was really good, we had toured with Amon Amarth before—I think it was in 2009, but I’m also 41 so my memory’s not the best [Laughs]—so we knew the guys already. We’ve been fans of Enslaved forever as well, so it’s really cool to meet those guys—and those guys are really fun. It was really good, the shows were almost all sold out [especially those in the] House of Blues type of theater. People were there and packed early [into the venue] every night. I couldn’t ask for it to be any better man, it was awesome.”
Although the band takes their performances very seriously, they know how to kick back, cut loose, and have some fun. There was an incident during the tour when the guys trolled Ice Dale of Enslaved with hilarious shirts. Laughter just helps pass the malaise of long drives, and longer days on the road.
“[Laughs] You know, at this point it’s not really about getting crazy and stupid anymore. Maybe when we first started we would try to do tour pranks. Well, Enslaved did come out in their last show to prank us. They took orange yarn and put it in their hair like it was my brother Nate, the red-headed guy in our band, and they put pillows under their shirts, so they had a belly, and then they just walked across the stage with the big bellies and a red ponytail. So that was really funny. But just little shit like that, nothing crazy like, you know, we’re going WILD or anything. It’s a long tour, and it is our job—and it is also the best job ever—but I’m just not really into fucking around too much. I just want to do what I have to do, what I love to do, do it well, and do the best I can. You know, you get in trouble, it screws ya, and I’m just not into getting in trouble.”
Musicians and music bloggers alike have blogged before that metal bands don’t earn much money from their record royalties, and that the money, instead, lies in touring and selling merch goods while on tour. We asked Garnette for his take on this topic: “Oh, absolutely, it’s true, yes. You definitely pay your rent by your merch. You know, your guarantee, or the door money you get for your show, that fee, at our level, usually is gas money and for per-diems per band member, and then it’s gone. So the money you take home, I would say, 80 – 90% is your merch money. And then you have to pay that bill back, and then you have to divide by the number of people in the band. So the big pie gets really small really fast!”
Furthermore on the subject of making money Skeletonwitch (with the help of their label Prosthetic) has been one of the leaders of making cool and unique merch. They have released quite a few limited edition products lately, namely: the “Beer helmet” T-shirt and the Forever Abomination picture disc. We asked if limited edition merchandise plays a role in the success of a band?
“It doesn’t make or break a band. It’s just little fun shit to do. The Forever Abomination record is out of print. I mean there are still a few trickling around in stores here and there, but is there a stockpile [of it] at Prosthetic Records or at my house? No, it’s out of print. Every one that is printed is out there.
Instead of just re-printing the same thing again, [we wanted] to do something different. We haven’t done a picture disc before, and we like to do new things. The picture disc isn’t a new idea, but it’s new for Skeletonwitch. But I don’t think putting a picture disc out or bringing back an old merch design for two weeks and then killing it is necessarily mandatory for success. I mean it’s just some neat little things to do to keep the wheels turning and to keep, er, you know, you need to super-serve your fans. You need to be there for ‘em, or they will forget about you.”
One of the things that sets the band apart is the prominence of melody in Skeletonwitch’s music. It’s a big reason for the success of the band to date. Not many blackened thrash bands have a knack for melody like they do. Some bands and boutique record labels don’t seem to think that melody is important to extreme metal music. We wondered if Chance had to convince them that melody is important to extreme metal, we asked how he would go about it:
You know, I don’t know if I’d try to convince them. I mean, just do what you want and I’ll do what I want. I believe, for what I do, [melody] is very important. I like to write songs that are memorable, and I think melody, for us, is very important. You can walk out the door whistling or humming a Skeletonwitch song. I don’t think you can do that—[Pauses]
To a Portal song?
“Right, I mean I never heard someone whistling or humming to that before. [Laughs] It doesn’t make it any less relevant or better or worse or anything—it’s just a different style. I prefer the songwriting approach instead of just [writing] parts, ‘cos there’s definitely overly technical things [out there]. To me, sometimes, it’s just like, “Brutal part! Brutal part! Brutal part! Brutal part!” You know, nothing that you can remember. I mean, what’s the biggest band in the world? Iron Maiden. That shit is memorable as fuck. [Laughs]”
Serpents Unleashed not only contains great melodies, but also possesses a more black metal sound than previous records. Chance answered our charge it a conscious attempt to pay homage to the Norwegian black metal scene, or if it just came naturally to the band:
“We never really set out before writing a record that “this one needs to be fresher, or this one needs to be more black metal.” It’s just where we were at that time, or where we are at any time. When Nate was demo-ing the stuff, it just came out that way. And we were all really stoked about it and we were feeling it, and we just kind of went with it. We didn’t decide to have a meeting beforehand to sit down and say, “We need to make this one more black metal” or “We need to make this one more extreme.”
Following the band since Beyond the Permafrost, and when I heard Serpents Unleashed after Forever Abomination, I thought it sounded kind of like old Satyricon. Perhaps to the casual listener, he or she might be thinking that they tried to pay homage to Norwegian black metal.
“I mean, we love it, and I love—since you mentioned Satyricon—I love The Age of Nero. It is so catchy and memorable—like we were talking before—but you know, if you listen to Serpents Unleashed and The Age of Nero, it’s not like, “Oh, they totally copied it.” It’s not like that at all. I think it’s just kind of like what you are listening to at the time or just where you are in your head at the time, and that’s the product of what comes out. That’s the basis for it all. It was not a conscious effort.”
“I do agree that from Permafrost to Serpents, it’s different but it also is the same. You can tell both of them are Skeletonwitch. [We’re satisfied] as long as we can keep progressing and not change crazily, ‘cos I don’t think we’re ever going to just make a real hard turn and do something different. We just want to get better each time. And I do believe that Serpents.. is way better than Permafrost. I enjoy it way more.”
To some diehards in the scene costumes, spiky accessories, corpse paint and pyrotechnics are essential elements of a black metal band. But can a band play “black metal” if they sound black metal, but do not have any of these elements?
“Sure, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to see shorts and flip-flops. You know, I don’t need to see the full regalia, but I do love to see the corpse paint and the spikes, I think it’s awesome. I love looking at that, yeah. I mean it’s part of the show and it’s part of the whole thing. So let’s just say someone is in the most brutal or I guess the most perfect black metal band in the world, but then they’re wearing shorts and flip-flops? I could listen to the record, but when I see them live, I’ll be like, “Aw, man.” [Laughs]”
Speaking of which, have you heard of this parody band called “The Black Satans”?
Basically they make fun of black metal in a few music videos they did, and there was one particular music video in which it had a lot of footage of the band members wearing corpse paint, but in swimming trunks and dancing on a beach.
“You know, that kinda bums me out. Right now, last year and this year, it seems to be in style to make black metal goofy, and that’s really not at all what it’s about, or at least, what it’s about to me. You know, like you see the shirts that say, “I like my metal like I like my coffee—black!” I mean, come on, quit making fun of it man. Or like people putting corpse paint on Santa Claus for Christmas cards.”
Or corpse paint on cats.
[Laughs] The Purrzum shirt. [Laughs]
“I don’t know Matt. I do not. But I love cats, aaand also black metal. But I don’t need to combine the two [of them], man. So yeah, I think the parody is getting out of hand, and people are watering it down, and I don’t love to see people do that.”
Road warriors that they are, Skeletonwitch is in the middle of an extensive tour cycle that will take them all over the globe this summer:
“Yeah, we are going to do some European festivals in the summer. I think we are… I don’t know the dates exactly, but it looks like it’s about 20 dates—obviously not all festivals. The festivals I do think we’re confirmed for—or might not be playing—are like Brutal Assault, Bloodstock, well, you know, you have the early and late spring ones, and then you have the later summer ones, so yeah, like the August ones, we will be in Europe doing those.”
Skeletonwitch on Facebook
by Dane Prokofiev
By the end of this year, I will be looking back at all of the great shows that have come around in the year 2014. I can guarantee that the evening of February 1st, at the House of Blues Boston will certainly be one of the first I touch upon. On this evening, the Boston crowd was treated with stand out acts: Skeletonwitch, the almighty Enslaved, and one of the biggest metal bands out there today, Amon Amarth. By the end of this show, I was dehydrated, tired, broke, but oh so very happy with the beating my body, specifically my ears, had taken.
To start off the show with a bang was Ohio’s own black/thrash five-piece, Skeletonwitch. Personally, I knew with an open slot, and a new album out, we would probably see a good selection of newer material. About half of the set was of new material, but boy did they pick out the best tracks! My favorites out of the new tracks were ‘I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)’ , ‘Beneath Dead Leaves’, and the ever epic, ‘Burned From Bone.’ The Boston audience was also treated to some older tunes such as the classic, ‘Beyond the Permafrost’, ‘Crushed Beyond Dust’ , and the closer, ‘Within My Blood.’ Even with a shortened set having to be the opening act, Skeletonwitch provided proof as to why they are one of my favorite bands today and they should be yours as well! Just when some thought it was safe to go grab a quick beer or hit the merchandise tables, Enslaved was quickly set up and ready to go.
As Enslaved was walking out to the stage with their intro sample playing, I heard someone behind me say something to the effect of “oh yeah I looked up this band, they are boring.” Let’s just say after the next 45 minutes, they had quite a different opinion of the legendary Enslaved. Of course with such long, wonderfully created songs, you don’t quite get a lot of songs from such a “short” set. Enslaved was able to play six songs for us that night and quite honestly, save one song I still am dying to see performed live, I really can’t complain at their selection! Enslaved’s newest release, RIITIIR, was quite the spectacle after it became available and still grows on me to this day. We fortunately got to hear two very good tracks off of the album. The feverish Boston head-bangers got ‘Death in the Eyes of Dawn’ to open up the set and then got the album-titled song, ‘RIITIIR’ halfway through the set. Even if there were only two newer tracks played, this gave room for some previous favorites like ‘Ethica Odini’ and the usual closing song, ‘Isa.’ It was also a treat to hear an absolute classic, ‘Allfaðr Oðinn’ from the year 1993 (which very well may be older than a portion of the fans in attendance)! Overall, Enslaved has proven the test of time and I do not see them slowing down by not even the smallest of margins. I did get a chance to mention to keyboardist/clean vocalist, Herbrand, over a beer down the street that the next time Enslaved makes their way through Massachusetts that we must hear the amazing single, ‘Roots of the Mountain.’ He seemed to agree with my plea. As if there is any doubt that I would make it to the next Enslaved tour, but this moment certainly cements it.
Finally, it was time for the Swedish Viking Metal Titans, Amon Amarth to make their way to the stage and literally bring us to the might feasting halls of Valhalla to speak of the many tales in Norse Mythology. Before we get into the amazing set that was, I have a slight tale of my own regarding Amon Amarth and Enslaved earlier that day. It quickly became shared throughout the internet that on the very day this tour had come through Boston, that a few members from Amon Amarth and Enslaved were seen at the Boston Bruins hockey game in the newly created, special edition Amon Amarth Hockey Jerseys! These have been on sale throughout the tour and of course, I had to get one. Now back to the show. Starting off the night was the newly made music video song from Amon Amarth’s latest album, ‘Father of the Wolf.’ During this intro, Johan Hegg (vocals) had come out wearing his recently obtained Boston Bruins/Loui Eriksson jersey which led to a hug pop to kick off the set! Since this was the headlining tour for the new Amon Amarth album entitled Deceiver of the Gods, all in attendance were very excited to hear the new material live and did the five Vikings from Sweden ever deliver. Some tracks included ‘Shape Shifter’ , the album title ‘Deceiver of the Gods’ , ‘We Shall Destroy’ , and ‘Warriors of the North.’ Personally I was hoping for ‘Under Siege’ but it was not meant to be. Amon Amarth had made up for this ever so small discretion by playing classics like ‘Death in Fire’ , ‘Free Will Sacrifice’, ‘Destroyer of the Universe’, and ‘The Last Stand of Frej’. Just when it appeared Amon Amarth was going to set sail back to Scandinavia after the single ‘War of the Gods’, they returned for a two song encore to ensure even the greediest of the Bostonians at the House of Blues last night went home happy. The encore consisted of the huge single, ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ and then wrapped up the night with the sing-a-long ‘The Pursuit of Vikings’. Something about that last song’s opening riff just really gets everyone fired up and it gets me every time I have the pleasure of seeing this band play. Overall, this tour was exactly as I was hoping for. Getting to meet the bands afterwards and enjoy a beer with Herbrand was just icing on the cake after what a great show and overall experience I got to share with some close friends. In all honesty, I wish House of Blues had canceled their rave night that evening so all three bands could have played longer sets or maybe even had a local opener start the show off. At this point, however, I am just being greedy at what was already an early candidate for Show of the Year.
Skeletonwitch on Facebook
Words: Tim Ledin
Photos: Hillarie Jason Photography