Skeletonwitch - Beyond The Permafrost
Prosthetic Records
Hell Man - You gotta figure this one out yourselves!
12 songs (36:28)
Release year: 2007
Skeletonwitch, Prosthetic Records
Reviewed by Ross
Album of the month
While listening to Skeletonwitch’s Beyond The Permafrost I got this Déjà-vu sensation at track 3 Baptized In Flames. I must have repeat played it about twenty times trying to figure out if I’d heard it before or was confusing it with another song. This was something I had to get to the bottom of! After many hours of searching, turning my house into what I suppose the aftermath of an earthquake at a Virgin Megastore would look like I found At One With The Shadows, their 2004 self released album. Damned if I know how I got it cos I sure can’t remember reviewing it in any previous life. No matters, I decided not to listen to their previous creation but listen to Beyond The Permafrost as a ‘Stand-Alone’ album and not let anything that had come before influence my assessment of their Prosthetic Records debut album

From the get-go of opening track Upon Black Wings, Skeletonwitch come at you in a musical barrage of fury and aggression which lasts virtually right through the entire album. Their musical style dances between Thrash, Brutal Death, Melodic Death, Black, Pure Metal and Power. Vocalist Chance Garnette has an awesome repertoire of growls, rasps, grunts, shrieks and groans that he uses like punctuation marks throughout his singing. Like the music, Chance’s vocal style changes from Death to Black to Roar throughout, not just the album, but in some cases, within a track. There are occasions on the album where the vocals are a bit thin, particularly when he goes to Black mode. This, I think, is more due to not so good production than any fault of the vocalist. This can be remedied by cranking up the volume; well it works for me anyways.

However, awesome vocals aside, the chunks of meat on the bones of this record are definitely the dual guitars of Nate Garnette and Scott Hedrick. Thrashing riffs abound with scorching solos that tip a nod to the Dave Murray / Adrian Smith ‘Old School’ of finger-snapping fretwork. A particular nod to this is album closer Within My Blood which has the Iron Maiden hallmark stamped all over it. The guitar-work in every track is display of dual harmonies and melodies that can only come from guitarists that are in total tune with each other, riding the same groove. In fact, there’s a point, almost half way through the track Feast Upon The Flesh where there is a tempo / timing change that is so smoothly done that I feel some sort of ultrasensory-perception is part of the band psyche; you’re like “When the fuck did they do that?”

The rhythm section of Eric Harris and Derrick Nau, on bass and drums respectively, play their role to the max. Eric can be heard almost like a third lead guitar in places adding a deep down low harmony that physically enhances the six stringers. For the most part, Derrick’s drumming is tight and solid, keeping everything all tightly wrapped. When he does kick-off though you know he has the ability to get real technical; but the music doesn’t really need it all the time so he plays everything just right, bringing out the technical flourishes and hyper-speed double kicks only when called for

Though all tracks on Beyond The Permafrost kick serious Metal ass there are a few that had me jiggle them about on my Winamp so’s I could get them back-to-back and repeat: These were the Thrashing opener Upon Black Wings, the aforementioned Blackened melodic Baptized In Flames, the bajillion mile per hour Thrashingly harmonious Limb From Limb and the Black tinged Feast Upon The Flesh. I’d only repeat a couple of times though before hankering for the rest.

With their multi-genre spanning style, there is a lot to appeal to a broad spectrum of Metalheads. I’d even go so far as to say “Hey everybody, say hello to your new favourite band!” However, you can’t please all of the people all of the time and there will be some closed minded purists who will baulk at their hallowed musical genre being mixed with anything else. That will be their loss! As for the rest of us – Prostrate yourselves and give praise to whatever demon has presented us with a band that feeds our many Metal desires all in one package. These guys are definitely going on my ‘Bands To See Before I Die’ list. If any of you out there have already had the privilege of catching Skeletonwitch live, drop in a comment, let us know what we’re missing.
Killing Songs :
Every Damned One Of Them !!!
Ross quoted 96 / 100
Other albums by Skeletonwitch that we have reviewed:
Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination reviewed by Kyle and quoted 87 / 100
Skeletonwitch - Breathing The Fire reviewed by Kyle and quoted 89 / 100
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