July 16, 2018 Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light (Album Review)
As those unfamiliar with Heavy Metal simply see it as one genre, those who live inside its core expand their horizons to the outer edges encompassing all the genres and subgenres within. One exceptional treat some Heavy Metal bands bring into light is the quality mixing of major Metal genres such as Thrash, Death, and Black Metal which, of course, exemplifies Extreme Metal as a term.
In the case of Ohio’s Skeletonwitch, they started with Thrash elements and built layers into it over time, progressively becoming dominant in the Black Metal style with some heavy Melodic Death undertones, as is prevalent in their latest July 20th, 2018, release, titled Devouring Radiant Light on Prosthetic Records.
There is definitely a consistency, as well as comfort, when it comes to the melodic guitar tones that have been a signature sound in Skeletonwitch, despite the changing and growing sound over the years. After a few line-up changes since their 2003 debut, the current team now consists of Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette and Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick on Guitars with Evan “Loosh” Linger on Bass and, newest member since 2016, Adam Clemans, formerly of Wolvhammer, on Lead Vocals. Dustin Boltjes has been the Drummer for Skeletonwitch the past seven years and yet is no longer a member due to another singing obligation. Therefore, the tour in support of this album will see yet another new face perking up to the daunting task.
The choice of the Black Metal direction and the latest lead singer is the key to multiplying their success with every album. After five years have passed since the last studio album, Serpents Unleashed, it is time for the first full-length with Adam Clemans that serves as a more darkly adventurous follow up to the 2016 The Apothic Gloom EP which Clemans was also a part of.
Starting off the latest album is a great melodic piece called “Fen Of Shadows” that ranges just under eight-minutes long and is extremely encouraging for what is to come. With many song titles typical in nature for a Melodic Death Metal/Exploratory band, “When Paradise Fades,” and aggressively promising track “Temple Of The Sun,” fit right in. Meanwhile, the title track on the eight-song album is just what the doctor ordered in terms of really creeping into the dark side with a pleasing mix of Melodic Blackened Death: Adam’s vocals are just the right, gratifying harshness and the melodies turn black with creative intent.
The longest ballad of all, “The Vault” starts out in a harmonic tone and builds into a more tranquil blackened death state, grooving on the growling vocals for what is the album’s longest song at over eight-minutes long. As attention spans can fade as easily as they grow, the next track “Carnarium Eternal” is speedy blackened chaos, filled with extreme Metal madness and brutal undertones that push a second layer of evil into the mix for a solid three-minute session.
Finally, the vocal antics meet their maker with “Sacred Soul” and soar beyond mortal limits into another tranquil blackened delight of structured insanity no fan will care to miss. As a longtime fan witnessing the perils and progress of Skeletonwitch over the years, one can not help but to be thrilled for the current extreme sound that primarily encompasses a Melodic Blackened Death sound on a much larger and brutal scale.
Finding a relatable notion in Skeletonwitch’s music today is absolutely on its finest chord, and it is highly-anticipated to catch their next future tour. For carrying the same determination as their finest predecessors, plus their sheer songwriting talent alone, CrypticRock gives Devouring Radiant Light a 4.5 out of 5 stars.