November 2013 National Music Reviews

Review: Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed

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Skeletonwitch
Serpents Unleashed
Prosthetic
Street: 10.29
Skeletonwitch = (3 Inches of Blood – NWOBHM falsetto) * (Deathspell Omega / Deafheaven) * 1/Amon Amarth
Serpents Unleashed’s opening title track wastes no time in pumping Skeletonwitch’s brand of black thrash to the band’s best showing yet as drummer Dustin Boltjes seamlessly transfers from D-beats to blast beats amid rhythmic guitar chugs that propel the album into voluptuous convulsions. Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Forever Abomination, but in my eyes, the band has transcended their sound on this record—the technically modest solo of “Beneath Dead Leaves,” for example, demonstrates Skeletonwitch’s penchant for song construction rather than stereotypical, dick-swingin’ metal guitar solos. The band has a way to manipulate a type of dark emotion by way of rhythm changes, such as in “From a Cloudless Sky,” which flows from double-kick trills to rock beats and back. My favorite song, “Burned From Bone,” exhibits a gorgeous sense of guitar/bass-tonal movement against the drums, framing vocalist Chance Garnette’s overtone-ridden rasp for a song that culminates as a baroque tour de force. The album is plenty evil, though—“There is no light without darkness/no joy without pain,” Garnette growls in “This Evil Embrace,” which seems to be the aural theme of Serpents Unleashed, that the immediate abrasion of their heavy metal underscores the genius of their songs. “Unwept,” for me, stands out as another tier in the album, but at this point, it’s just splitting hairs—Serpents Unleashed is a must-have. –Alexander Ortega
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