Skeletonwitch/Serpents Unleashed (2013)-Review:
[Album Rating: Classic 10/10.]
[Country: USA. Genre: Blackened Thrash.]
In one of the most brilliant tour pairings of the decade, Skeletonwitch will be joining Amon Amarth in their early 2014 North American tour. But due apparently to their evil nature, Skeletonwitch will not be allowed to join AA at the Disney H.O.B. in Orlando, FL. Either the Christians have fully weaseled their way into the Disney management infrastructure, or someone simply read some 'Witch lyrics. Maybe both. Indeed, on Serpents Unleashed, the music is SO good and so fun to listen to that the lyrics pretty much have to be as wretched as they are -- because otherwise, as uplifting as these tunes are, this album could mistakenly get tossed into the Christian metal bin. That would be a mistake.
On their fourth 10-star album in a row, Skeletonwitch invite in a little more mid-tempo and a little more doom. But do not be fooled, folks, this is a blazing blackened melodic thrash album -- as jagged and as compelling as their previous two. Aside from their live performances (when they do it every night), though, Skeletonwitch have not yet re-reached the level of metallic divinity achieved on their iconic Beyond The Permafrost (2007). But, it will be fun to continue to see them try!
It will not always be the case during our lives that we will be able to witness one of metal's historically most vital acts in their prime -- not only bursting onto the scene via soul-thrashing mastery of the recorded medium, but also via a near-relentless daily presence at venues throughout the land -- maintaining this unusual level of greatness. So, enjoy it.
The cover does not lie, people. The finest metal album artwork of 2013 comes paired with a flute of 11 fine offerings -- unmatched by any other band this year. As the wind and ice take the flesh of a majority of the atonal retro-thrash and second-rate death & black metal groups, we are treated to this stand-out band spreading their blackened thrashing wings. On Unending, Everliving a doomy intro morphs into a Tipton-Downing riffage moment, and then the brutal beauty that could only be Skeletonwitch comes crashing through. Though much has been made of More Cruel Than Weak being somewhat of a doom song, do not be fooled -- 90 seconds in... this track will scorch your flesh and in no way leave you mellowed out and ready for sleep.
Indeed Serpents Unleashed marks the 4th time that Skeletonwitch has easily passed the Reign In Blood test -- another sub-40-minute rare gem of a metal album that finishes too soon leaving you absolutely needing to play it again. Listen closely to the closing solos of From A Cloudless Sky, Burned From Bone, and This Evil Embrace. The totally different attitudes of these solos are emblematic of the fresh sounds these Ohio natives are continuing to soak into Skeletonwitch -- while all the while defiantly maintaining their defining fiery, jagged melodicism that once heard, you will need to continue to hear, with volume, and often.
Synopsis: Among the truest defenders of the metal faith (taking into account the various colours of the metallic faith, as it was recorded throughout the resplendent 80s and 90s worldwide), the 'Witch has given birth to another precision slice of chaos that is a joy to listen to from start to finish.
[Album released October 2013 on Prosthetic]
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