August 26, 2016 Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom (Album Review)
Out of the depths of Ohio comes a unique band with a knack for mixing Thrash with blackened, yet melodic Death Metal leanings by the name of Skeletonwitch. In the game for over a decade now, they most recently sustained a big lineup change with new Lead Vocalist Adam Clemans joining the fold. Previously of Wolvhammer and Veil Of Maya, Clemans brings a slightly different than the usual vocal flavor into the mix as he soars to great heights, assisting greatly on the band’s latest EP, The Apothic Gloom. Released on August 19th, 2016 via Prosthetic Records, it marks the first studio recording from Skeletonwitch since Chance Garnette stepped down in 2014 due to personal issues. Now consisting of only two original members, Guitarists Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette and Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick, these talented musicians alongside Bassist Evan “Loosh” Linger (since 2008) and badass Drummer Dustin Boltjes (since 2011) lead the band into the future.
As far as album artwork goes, this one was created by Sin Eater and has a very creative and appropriately evil nature to it, based in all grayscale tones that helps define the gloom well. Allowing this vision to set the mood, The Apothic Gloom starts out with the just under six minute title track and definitely serves up some of the finest riffage as well as drum blasts this band has produced to date. The difference in the vocals is not major, yet it is apparent since Chance’s style seemed to be more one range guttural. This is in contrast to Clemans, who has a broader range as well as a slightly less brutal take, but still comes across as evil. In fact, Clemans’ style actually crosses more over to Black Metal than melodic Death Metal, and tracks of The Apothic Gloom thrashes out in all directions as well. That being said, “Well Of Despair” is perhaps the most Thrash oriented of them all as gloomy blackened lyrics with evil guitar riffs add in the elements that separate this band from others among them.
Track three of four, “Black Waters” is perhaps the most blackened piece with exception of some of the guitar workings towards the end that almost sound out of place, yet actually just sparks an interest in the song as a whole. Concluding it all, “Red Death, White Light” chimes in at over seven minutes long, possessing some of the most intricate guitar work and creative drumming. It also sounds the most similar to the band’s previous work with its more melodic nature. Yet again, it must be said that this is an exciting new direction as Clemans really shines in all of his badass glory on this last track, which can only means good times are ahead for these guys.
After five studio albums and a third EP, one can foresee an LP to follow in the near future from Skeletonwitch. As stated, Skeletonwitch has a natural ability to mix genres in such a way that their approach has becomes unmistakable from any other band. Having originated only thirteen years ago, they are in an outstanding place and on their way to take it to the next level. That being said, it is a masterful feat to realize that if at first one does not succeed to the level intended, after a careful process of trial and error, eventually something miraculous occurs, thus balance and nirvana are achieved. Without any further delay, CrypticRock gives The Apothic Gloom 4 out of 5 stars.