Skeletonwitch - Beyond the Permafrost
Record Label: Prosthetic Records
Release Date: October 2, 2007
The ongoing "thrash revival" has been bringing out some of the most interesting bands in the metal scene today, one of the most unique and creative being Ohio's Skeletonwitch. Skeletonwitch are a band that combines many metal genres together in their music. There are traces of thrash, melo-death, New Wave of British Heavy Metal and black metal present in Skeletonwitch's sound, the two main ones being thrash and black metal. A brief way to sum up their sound is that they play a raw, fast style of metal with heavy emphasis on riffs and melodies. Beyond The Permafrost is the band's second album and their first on Prosthetic Records.
Beyond The Permafrost's best feature is it's outstanding guitar work. Guitarists, Nate Garnett and Scott Hedrick deliver some excellent riffs which have thrash and New Wave of British Heavy Metal elements in them. If it's one thing Skeletonwitch do perfectly, it's deliver fast, catchy, memorable riffs. Garnett and Hedrick make great use of harmonization with trading off lead and rhythm guitar duties very nicely. The two are rarely playing the same riff so they don't get old or repetitive. Their melodies are also excellent, as they manage to stay catchy and have a lot of melody while not detracting the heaviness of the song. There's also plenty of solos on here as well - after all, what's a thrash metal album without guitar solos? Skeletonwitch's solos are fast and plentiful, but very melodic as well. See, "Upon Black Wings," "Sacrifice For The Slaughtergod" and "Within My Blood," for examples.
While the guitar work is mainly thrash influenced, the vocals are heavily influenced by black metal. Vocalist Chance Garnett's voice sounds like pure evil, almost what I'd expect a skeleton demon's voice to sound similar to. Garnett's range goes from high pitched shrieks to low death metal grunts and growls.
The production has it's ups and downs. Beyond The Permafrost maintains an overall raw, old-school thrash sound but it doesn't sound like it was recorded in someone's basement. However, the mixing sounds very uneven as the guitars are louder than everything else, almost drowning out Garnett's vocals in a few spots. The bass is also a bit inaudible at times too as it is with most thrash albums. Another minor complaint is how Beyond The Permafrost starts out very consistent but then begins to lag after about nine tracks. After "Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery," everything begins to sound a bit similar until the fantastic closer, "Within My Blood."
Overall, this is a very solid release that's great for anyone looking for some new metal to rock out to, although thrash fans may not care for Barnett's black metal vocals. Skeletonwitch are a very good and talented band and this album shows a lot of potential for future releases by the band. Beyond The Permafrost is a great thrash record that'll be fun to rock out to or play at parties for years to come.