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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