Skeletonwitch – Breathing the Fire
After several years, I am finally on board with Skeletonwitch. 2006’s Worship the Witch EP and 2007’s Beyond the Permafrost full-length had the same problems: ragged production, unmemorable songwriting, and lack of scope. The band’s blackened thrash crossed Metallica with Immortal, but lacked their gravitas. Guitars and vocals sounded thin. How could such a large man produce such a small rasp?
Now Skeletonwitch have material worthy of their vigorous live show. The vocals are still parched, but the rest of the band more than compensates. Guitars are all over the place now. They etch out tremolo picking, unfurl rich harmonies, and solo with fire and purpose. European counterparts like Audiopain and Aura Noir are still weightier. But at least Skeletonwitch have a little weight now. The production brings out the snags in riffs that made early Metallica so firing. Abstraction and dissonance seep into the high end. Lyrically, the band still doesn’t say much (death, disaster, you will pay, and so on and so forth), but musically it is smarter and more assured. I am upgrading its rating from “Hold” to “Buy.”