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