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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Audio: Skeletonwitch – Red Death, White Light

skeletonwitch the apothic gloom ghostcultmag

Skeletonwitch has released a new single, from their forthcoming EP The Apothic Gloom, due this summer on Prosthetic Records. You can stream ‘Red Death, White Light’ and see a visualizer for the track at this link below:

The Apothic Gloom track listing:

1. The Apothic Gloom (5:58)

2. Well of Despair (3:54) (watch)

3. Black Waters (3:47)

4. Red Death, White Light (7:12) (watch)

Digital pre-orders are available now at the following locations:

Bandcamp

iTunes

Amazon

 

Physical pre-orders are now available at store.prostheticrecords.com/bands/skeletonwitch. Options include:

– 180-gram black vinyl (1000 copies)

– White/yellow marble vinyl (800 copies)

– Clear vinyl (100 copies)

– Light Grey Cassette Tape (125 copies)

– Metallic Gold Cassette Tape (125 copies)

– Digipak CD

Skeletonwitch, by Hillarie Jason

Skeletonwitch, by Hillarie Jason

Skeletonwitch previously released another single, ‘Well of Despair’. The band is kicking off a headline tour this August to support the EP release.

 

Skeletonwitch- “No Sleep ‘TIL Vancouver” Tour Dates:

Aug 02: Once Ballroom – Boston, MA

Aug 03: Nectart’s – Burlington, VT

Aug 04: L’Anti Bar – Quebec City, QC (Official Heavy Montreal Pre-Party)

Aug 05: Ritual – Ottawa, ON (Official Heavy Montreal Pre-Party)

Aug 06: Katacombes – Montreal, QC (Official Heavy Montreal After-Party)

Aug 08: Rum Runners – London, ON

Aug 09: Lee’s Palace – Toronto, ON

Aug 11: Crocks – Thunder Bay, ON

Aug 13: Windsor Hotel – Winnipeg, MB

Aug 15: Amigos Cantina – Saskatoon, SK

Aug 16: Mercury Room – Edmonton, AB

Aug 17: Dickens Pub – Calgary, AB

Aug 19: The Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, BC

Aug 20: Logan’s Pub – Victoria, BC

Aug 22: The Pin – Spokane, WA

Aug 25: The Frequency – Madison, WI

Aug 26: Firebird – St. Louis, MO

Aug 27: Ace of Cups – Columbus, OH

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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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