Skeletonwitch – Magic Circle – Lich King – Black Mass: Live at Once Ballroom, Somerville MA

 

 Skeletonwitch – Once Ballroom, Somerville MA ghostcultmag

 

After a fairly quick work day and speedy drive to the city we are met with the universal issue when in any city , PARKING! But after spotting a Wookie known as Tim Ledin (also of Ghost Cult) and acquiring a spot we await the start of the show!

Slowly the intersection is flooded with metal heads like zombies at a mall, and slowly we all shamble in to the hopefully air-conditioned venue. For those who have not been to Cuisine en Locale AKA Once Ballroom there’s an upstairs bar to the left of the main door way and straight ahead is the main dance hall, both excellent for watching the bands and having beers. Upstairs obviously having the best vantage point to the stage aside from of course directly in front of the 3 ft high structure.

First band of the night probably had the youngest members out of all of them Black Mass. Brendan O’Hare and two cohorts make up a thrashing mad three-piece akin to Blue Cheer but of speed metal. Brendan’s vocals sound a lot like Max Cavelera and Chuck Schuldiner’s love child of sorts and back up vocals from the bassist really add dimension and punch to the already catchy vocal lines. Ending their set with the sing along of “East Coast Thrash” with a very easy line to remember with three magical words!

Up next is Lich King keeping the thrash train a moving and if you’re reading this and haven’t witnessed them live its like a mash-up of all the good things about Slayer and Exodus rolled in to one! I’m not a thrash junkie like many of my friends may be but sometimes every thing blurs together and in a flash its gone , sadly that was my experience with this band, not saying they are bad or aren’t deserving of praise just not this writers cup of tea, check them out for yourself and form your own opinion. maybe you’ll have something to show me or a song I should listen to that may really get my attention and I will become as big a fan as some of you readers.

Magic Circle is next to take the stage and start of with a quick jaunt of ‘Kings and Queens’ by Aerosmith song then almost as quickly diving in to the opening song of their set. Two more songs in I am bathed in riffage similar to St. Vitus or Pentagram and I am finally in my element and enjoying my self and being swooned by vocals very similar to the late great Ronnie James Dio being channeled from the other side, I was almost sad to see them end but now we enter the main event, the reason we are all here sweating , now .. it is time for THE WITCH!

Between sets people step out side to take a smoke break and that is where I happen to find Adam Clemans having a smoke and had a quick chat about the tour and whats in store on the set and whats in BOTH Wolvhammer’s future and the witch with Clemens at he helm and 2017 sounds promising.

What do I really need to say about this new line up of Skeletonwitch that hasn’t already been said? Yes, Chance is no longer the singer no he probably isn’t coming back to the band, but most importantly, yes Adam Clemens is the best fit for the band for the foreseeable future. Let me tell you why: because he is a new fresh face and well of ideas the band needs at this time. the band didn’t want a chance sound alike they wanted to try and move forward from his leaving and go in a new direction while still maintaining the Skeletonwitch sound, and I believe they’ve achieved that. although at first I wasn’t overly enthused about the choice after seeing Clemens works with the guys and the sound of the songs found on their new EP The Apothic Gloom (Prosthetic) Clemans fits perfectly among the blackened riffs the band had been writing.

Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom EP cover ghostcultmag

Pulling put all the stops and playing a majority of The Apothic Gloom as well as some older material mixed in with fan favorites (with the exception of my favorite ” submit to the suffering” which Adam assures me is going to be on the set in October but they will not be coming to Boston…) an other notable change is guitarist Nate Garnette  has picked up on backing vocal duties which also adds to the songs as well as the performance. Sweating through the expansive set and a few beers later sadly the set is over and now begins the mad rush out of the building and back to our homes to try and make it home safe and to bed after an amazing week night show.
ANDREW FRANCIS

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Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom

 

Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom EP cover ghostcultmag

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.

Skeletonwitch 2016 new band photo ghostcultmag

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.

Skeletonwitch, by Hillarie Jaosn

Skeletonwitch, by Hillarie Jaosn

9.0/10

KEITH CHACHKES

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The Decibel Tour: Live At Royale, Boston MA

decibel-dB_tour2016_admat_NOdates-localized-259x400 ghostcultmag

Every year there are highly-anticipated annual tours and every year many of them put together not so great lineups. When it comes to The Decibel Magazine Tour, I am happy to say that each year is a killer lineup and this year was no different. On April 14th, 2016, the Boston, MA crowd at Royale in the theatre district received quite a treat via artists: Tribulation, Skeletonwitch, High on Fire, and the legendary Abbath. From start to finish, this show is setting the bar high for the rest of the annual tour circuits.

Tribulation, by Hillarie Jason

Tribulation, by Hillarie Jason

Tribulation kicked off the night to quite an ovation for even an opening band. Fortunately, these guys have been around quite a bit supporting bands of all sorts and have constructed quite a second home in the Boston area. Although it was a short set, a majority was tracks from their latest, and arguably best album, The Children of the Night (Century Media Records). Opener ‘Strange Gateways Beckon’ starts off the set with a bang and then comes full circle a short while later with ‘Holy Libations’. Although only five songs in the set, it seemed just right to get warmed up for the rest of the night.

 

Skeletonwitch, by Hillarie Jason

Skeletonwitch, by Hillarie Jason

After a quick set up, Skeletonwitch was on the stage destroying the crowds with riff after riff. The biggest part of the set was to see how new vocalist, Adam Clemans, did replacing former vocalist, Chance Garnette. I was very pleased with what Adam brings for the table and I look forward to what comes next for the group. As for the set, the Boston crowd received mostly tracks from the latest full-length, Serpents Unleashed (Prosthetic Records), such as ‘From a Cloudless Sky’ , ‘Beneath Dead Leaves’ , and one of my favorites, ‘Burned From Bone’. The other half of the set was a mixed bag between a couple of albums including tracks like ‘Chock Upon Betrayal’ and ‘Beyond the Permafrost’.

High on Fire, by Hillarie Jason

High on Fire, by Hillarie Jason

Due up next was the return of Matt Pike and High on Fire. Regardless of what band he is touring with, it is always a privilege to watch Matt lay down some serious riffs. With a new album dropping less than a year ago, Luminiferous (Entertainment One), it wasn’t a surprise to catch mostly new tracks like ‘The Black Plot’ and ‘The Falconist’. However, the group did touch upon every other album in their discography once to provide a full cornucopia of their sound. Some of my favorites of the night were classics such as ‘Fertile Green’ , ‘Rumors of War’, ‘Blood From Zion’, and the closer (and usually fan favorite), ‘Snakes for the Divine’.

 

Abbath, by Hillarie Jason

Abbath, by Hillarie Jason

 

Abbath, by Hillarie Jason

Abbath, by Hillarie Jason

Finally, it was time for the almighty Abbath to grave the stage with his iconic corpse paint and silly faces. For years I wanted to see Abbath up on stage with his former group, Immortal, and play some classic black metal tracks. Fortunately, Abbath was the true force behind Immortal anyways, and his set was equally Immortal tracks as there were Abbath solo tracks. Not to discredit the solo material, Abbath (Season of Mist), was one of the earlier albums to come out this year, yet still finds its way into my playlists. From this record, we got to see songs including ‘To War!’ , ‘Winter Bane’ , ‘Fenrir Hunts’ , and ‘Root of the Mountain’. From the Immortal side of the set list, ‘One by One’, ‘Solarfall’, ‘All Shall Fall’, and closer ‘In My Kingdom Cold’. There was not a dull moment in the entire set and it was everything I had hoped for, including Abbath on stage. In fact, this entire tour package did not have a weak point at all outside of the short delays in between sets. Decibel, once again, has cemented themselves as one of the leading annual tours once again.

Abbath, by Hillarie Jason

Abbath, by Hillarie Jason

 

Abbath, by Hillarie Jason

Abbath, by Hillarie Jason

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WORDS BY TIM LEDIN

PHOTO BY HILLARIE JASON

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Skeletonwitch – Well Of Despair

Skeletonwitch Well Of Despair abum cover ghostcultmag

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!

 

Skeletonwitch 2016 new band photo ghostcultmag

7.0/10

KEITH CHACHKES

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Ex-Skeletonwitch Vocalist Issues Statement On His Situation

Skeletonwitch. Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

Skeletonwitch. Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

Skeletonwitch vocalist Chance Garnette issued a statement clarifying his disappearance from the band with a statement that was issued. Without mentioning the alleged Worcester, MA assault and battery charge against a family member, he gives his side of the story on what happened. In the meantime, the band are resuming their European tour with Battlemaster vocalist Andy Horn, and have yet to issue their own statement. Read on below.

“Hey everyone, Chance here. So, let me get into this whole thing in regards to what’s up between myself and Skeletonwitch right now.

To put it simply, I have a drinking problem. I regularly became a drunk asshole off stage and was fired. Did I just up and split in the middle of tour, leaving the band to solider on as heroes instrumentally as indicated by all the reports? No. I was left behind, unsure about anything, with no communication. It was my girlfriend who told me they were firing me from the band. Two days later, when I could get someone to take my call, I asked “Is this it? Am I fired?”. I was told, “Right now, you’re not the singer in Skeletonwitch” and that the band would be finishing the tour instrumentally.
If I had been given the opportunity beforehand to change what was wrong, or been told “Dude, you’re too much, we can’t take this shit, shape up or hit the bricks” then of course I would have. I mean, I’ve poured everything into this band for 11 years. It’s been the first thing I think of when I wake up and last thing I think of before bed for that long. You know, the last person to see who’s being an asshole is the person being the asshole. That was me, Guilty. I should have been able to recognize my own mistakes and faults and be able to fix my own shit. I’m not blaming anyone for not coming to me with an ultimatum about my behavior.

I wish something like that would have happened, it didn’t, what can I do? I’m not making an excuse for myself here, I own this; it’s all mine. What do they say? Wish in one hand and shit in the other and what are you left holding? Well I’m holding it…with both hands.

Did I go home to address “serious issues”? Yes, absolutely. Upon arriving home I immediately sought help via a local intensive out patient program because if there was to be any hope of a future with the band, I had to change, no question. There’s no excuse for blacking out and turning into a raging lunatic, not remembering what you have done the night before. Honestly, I still have no recollection of certain events even as I type this is. Look, I admit it; I fucked up. I can’t change the past. I can only change the present and the future and am continuing to try to do just that.

I apologize to everyone that didn’t get the full Skeletonwitch live show during the last half of the Amon Amarth tour late last year and to everyone in Europe that was expecting to see me front the band during the current festival/headline run. Believe me, I wanted to be there then and I want to be there now. I found out Skeletonwitch had a fill in vocalist for the current tour the same way everyone else did a couple days ago: on the internet.

So, that’s that, guys. I don’t feel I am finished artistically. I don’t feel my well has run dry lyrically. I’m still “Breathing the Fire”. I’m sitting on notebooks full of ideas and I hope I get to perform for you guys again in the not so distant future. If I get that opportunity, I won’t let you guys down. Thanks for everything, I hope to see all of you again.
Chance“

Skeletonwitch – Ghoul – Black Anvil: Live At the Sinclair, Cambridge MA

 SW-admat-6-2014

 

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.

Black Anvil (11)

 

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 (22)

 

 

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.

 

Skeletonwitch (25)

 

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!

 

 

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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

Infernal Resurrection

Fire from the Sky

Stand Fight and Die

Beneath Dead Leaves

Serpents Unleashed

This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)

Crushed Beyond Dust

Unending, Everliving

Cleaver of Souls

Beyond the Permafrost

Baptized in Flames

Limb from Limb

Repulsive Salvation

Of Ash and Torment

Within My Blood

Skeletonwitch on Facebook

Ghoul on Facebook

Black Anvil on Facebook

 

WORDS: KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES

PHOTOS: MEG LOYAL PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

Ghost Cult Magazine #17 – Out Now!

GC 17 cover medHells to the yes! The brand spanking new issue of our digimag is out today! Issue #17 features a revealing interview with Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage) of Devil You Know. Issue #17 also contains interviews with Twilight, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Apocalyptica, The Wounded Kings, Nothing, Delain, Steve “Zetro Souza” of Hatriot, Carnifex, Scott Lee of the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, Immortal Bird, a tribute to Dave Brockie of GWAR, an exclusive guest editorial from Davide Tiso on his new project Gospel of the Witches. Plus we have a recap of Blastfest from Norway, and other live reviews such as Behemoth & Cradle of Filth in the UK, The Winery Dogs in the USA, Ulver in The Netherlands, Apocalyptica in Finland and special features with Paul Masvidal and Chance Garnette. Made especially for your tablet device or smartphone! Check it out here!

Naturally More Extreme: Chance Garnette of Skeletonwitch

HillarieJason1-9skeletonwitch use for interview and show review

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.”

 amon-amarth-tour-2014

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.”

 skeletonwitch quote

 

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]”

 skeletonwitch

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.”

 

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by Dane Prokofiev

Live photo by Hillarie Jason Photography