Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed Review0 By Rick Bakker
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It’s an old saying that works when describing some of the most iconic bands in rock, and it’s something Skeletonwitch thankfully kept in mind when creating their latest album of highly enjoyable Black/ Thrash metal; “Serpents Unleashed” (29 October 2013 Prosthetic Records). Much like their excellent 2011 release “Forever Abomination”, “Unleashed” brings a perfect blend of fast metal and catchy, memorable riffs that make Skeletonwitch one of the best Black Metal bands going today.
What sets Skeletonwitch apart from their contemporaries is their focus on tight, memorable songs while maintaining a very extreme sound. Tracks such as “I Am Of Death” and “Beneath Dead Leaves” showcase the band’s formula of aggressive verses with fast tremolo riffing and drumming flowing into a more straightforward chorus, all without sacrificing an ounce of heaviness. The standout track “Unending, Everliving” features all that Skeletonwitch has to offer; solid drumming, excellent vocal flow and some great, varied riffing that contains one of the most memorable verse riffs I’ve heard in years.
Much like “Forever Abomination”, “Serpents Unleashed” recalls the classic albums of black metal legends Dissection, along with the guitar work of NWOBHM bands Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The result is proof of a band that is very confident in their sound and aren’t afraid to add elements to the black metal structure, such as when the aforementioned “Beneath Dead Leaves” and “From a Cloudless Sky” let rip some blues-based, tastefully done guitar solos amidst the chaos. The production by Kurt Ballou (High on Fire, Isis) is excellent as all instrumentation has great separation and clarity while maintaining a powerful sound, especially the drumming of Dustin Boltjes. The vocals of Chance Garnette are well produced and he has never sounded more powerful and clear.
Skeletonwitch have proved their consistency and once again delivered an extreme metal instant classic, placing themselves at the front of the genre. If you’re a fan of metal and have yet to experience Skeletonwitch, “Serpents Unleashed” is an absolute must-listen.
“Serpents Unleashed” can be purchased on Amazon here.