Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination
Prosthetic Records
Blackened Thrash Metal
11 songs (32:06)
Release year: 2011
Skeletonwitch, Prosthetic Records
Reviewed by Kyle

As always, Skeletonwitch’s latest packs a wallop of a first impression. As no other band approaches a sonically similar level genre-wise (and as I’m positively enamored by their visceral and melodic brand of blackened thrash), each release of theirs is a special occasion to these ears, one that invokes much neck-thrashing and air guitar-ing; a headbanger’s ball indeed. In fact, my joy upon first getting my hands on Forever Abomination resulted in a first impression that hailed it as thrash metal perfection, their magnum opus that they’ve always had potential to reach but never quite touched. Sadly, further listens revealed to me the flaws of this album, but here’s the thing - Skeletonwitch came SO close to making a perfect album. So fucking close. This makes the annoyances of Forever Abomination all the more tragic, and they’re significant enough to really bring down my opinion of the album… but it’s still an absolute blast to listen to, and easily one of the best thrash metal albums of the year.

The first thing you’ll likely notice upon first listen of Forever Abomination is a distinct presence of variety; quite a departure from the straightforwardness of Skeletonwitch’s previous full-length, Breathing the Fire. Album opener This Horrifying Force begins with an acoustic (!?) intro before breaking into a mid-paced (!!) thrashing stomp – this foreshadows an experience that is slower in its pace overall, but longtime fans should not worry as the band’s signature speed is still very much intact. As always, Skeletonwitch tends to dip into other genres on occasion – here, they add melodeath to their resume with the track Reduced to the Failure of Prayer, and show off a foundation more influenced by the traditions of black metal with cuts such as Erased and Forgotten and The Infernal Resurrection.

Still, other tracks such as Of Ash and Torment, Choke Upon Betrayal, and Rejoice in Misery are pure thrash through-and-through, and no track here is without its thrash influences. But let’s give due credit to the performances given here: They’re better than they’ve ever been. Vocalist Chance Garnette’s blackened sneer is no longer a questionable fit for the band, but rather the only logical one: where before he sounded a bit silly, here his growls are sinister and utterly visceral. Twin guitar crew Scott Hedrick and Nate Garnette are an amazing team as always, constantly switching lead duties whilst never ceasing in their harmonies – and this is all done as they perform the catchiest thrash riffs I’ve heard in quite some time. As for new drummer Dustin Boltjes, he effortlessly conforms his playing style to the band's needs, and a careful ear will pick out some truly impressive and technical performances. Skeletonwitch doesn’t delve into solos often, and they don’t need to; not when the music is this damn good.

But it could be better. In the process of writing this album, somewhere something went wrong, and it’s resulted in some downright lousy songwriting techniques. Take the track Of Ash and Torment for example: it begins as an absolutely ripping trash tune, but at the halfway point the tempo is inexplicably sliced in half, and it remains that way for the rest of the song. This doesn’t just happen here, but also on other songs: Rejoice in Misery and Cleaver of Souls are the other main offenders here, slowing down at the halfway point and never picking up the pace again (the second half of Cleaver of Souls in particular is goddamn boring), but similar flubs are made throughout the album. Seriously, Skeletonwitch: When you’ve got a great thrash number that works, DON’T RUIN IT BY SLOWING DOWN. It kills the listener’s enthusiasm and makes for tracks that feel sloppily thrown-together. That’s not to say that all of these slow bits are bad – some of them have a bit of a “Viking” quality to them, a la Amon Amarth - but they’re placed in all the wrong spots.

It hurts that Forever Abomination came so close to being THE ultimate Skeletonwitch album only to have that status ruined by crummy song structures, but the fact remains that the music itself is still very, very good. The production is perfect (FINALLY, guys!!), the musicians are at the top of their game, the songs are catchy and memorable (even with the structuring errors), and I simply can’t stop listening to Forever Abomination. Maybe it’s even a little encouraging that this album isn’t as good as it could be; it means that, in all likelihood, the best is yet to come from these Texan thrash wonders. A must-listen.

PROS: Tight riffs, fantastically sinister vocals, catchy / memorable songs.

CONS: Some truly boring slow moments, facepalm-inducing songwriting pitfalls.
Killing Songs :
This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill), Of Ash and Torment, Choke Upon Betrayal, The Infernal Resurrection, My Skin of Deceit
Kyle quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Skeletonwitch that we have reviewed:
Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Skeletonwitch - Breathing The Fire reviewed by Kyle and quoted 89 / 100
Skeletonwitch - Beyond The Permafrost reviewed by Ross and quoted 96 / 100
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