Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Skeletonwitch- Forever Abomination

Forever Abomination is the new album, released today, October 11,2011, from the Ohio metal band Skeletonwitch.  Most of the bands I listen to are relatively unknowns when mentioned in conversation, however for those that are keen on the metal scene, these bands are household names.

Skeletonwitch offers a mixture in the way they present their sound.  You really can’t define them as any one subgenre within the heavy metal universe.  While not as varying in sound as say a band like Between the Buried and Me, they do change things up quite a bit, from track to track and even between chorus’ within each track.  The majority of Skeletonwitch’s songs are high tempo.  They typically combine an in your face guitar style with a seemingly ever-present drumbeat.  But make no bones about it, if you’re into this band, you are there for the raspy, nether worldly sounding vocals of Chance Garnette.

The bands latest release, Forever Abomination, picks up where breathing The Fire, the 2009 release, left off.  They’ve changed things up a bit for the new record though.  For starters Derrick Nau, drums, is out and Dustin Boltjes is in.  While darkened themes are still prevelant throughout the majority of the songs here, the album is quite a bit more melodic when compared to previous releases. For me, anytime a band can increase melody, it’s a plus, that is if they are able to retain that in your face attacking style of guitars, and of course the trademarked vocals.  Skeletonwitch is able to combine the heavy of heavy rifts with the rhythmic melodies that put a bit of sway into the songs, all the while showcasing Chance’s vocal prowess.  In fact, I might even go so far, as I’ve only listened to the album about four times now, that these melodic elements seem to coincide perfectly with Chance’s singing, almost adding a bit of “flow” to his words. 

Many metal bands carry stigmas around with them.  Often they’re categorized as black, or death or whatnot, and while themes and lyrical content can be used in many instances to advance these stereotypes, I have to say that if you go around only listening to songs that are positive in nature, or each member of a group is completely vetted out to what you, or others for that matter, deem acceptable, well then you’ll be drastically reducing the selection of music you have to choose from.  This dilemma, if you choose to call it as such, is ever more prevalent in the world of metal, especially if you’re dealing with groups who may not be on the mainstream level yet. 

Why is this? 
Well I think a number of factors might be at play here.  First I’d say packaging, web-site design and the like have a great influencing factor.  Many metal groups include pictures of what most would consider grotesque and just uncomfortable to look at.  Then you have the way many of the vocals sound, the most popular styles being the guttural, screeching and ghastly.  These styles don’t sit too well with the mainstream music listener.  You’ll often hear why do they make themselves sound like that?  Or most often you’ll hear a blanket statement like “I can’t understand a word they’re saying.”  Finally I would say lyrical content, and overall themes tow the line a bit, moving all across the board, typically settling on themes of death, destruction, betrayal and evil. 

So how could I listen to groups like this?

My answer to this question is so easy for me.  I don’t pay any attention to what other people say.  I don’t care about pictures or images, and if I do, instead of looking at the image as a representation of something ugly or evil, I look at the artistic qualities needed to compose such images.  The vocals, at first I have to admit, were tough to understand in many cases.  But after a while you get used to them and start appreciating how any of the various styles can fit in with, and even accentuate it’s accompanying instrumentation.  And finally, as far as themes and lyrical content go, I write a lot of poetry and have a very big imagination, so I welcome the creative imagery. I love metaphors, and if you listen to metal, you’ll get to use your imagination in a variety of ways, but none so important as sorting out the vastness of metaphors used throughout a bands work.

Skeletonwitch is a great band in my opinion.  They get to the point fast and fiercely.  They’ve added a greater depth of melody to their songs and are ripe with metaphor.  If you like their earlier releases you’ll love Forever Abomination.  If you like metal in general, you should seriously give this album, and their other 3 albums and EP’s as well, some serious consideration.  Just a brief sampling on Itunes or any other site that lets you listen to music will, I feel, give you enough of a sample-set to get a good idea if this band would be something you’d be into.

Forever Abomination (32 minutes)
1.    This Horrifying Force (The Desire To Kill)   4:10
2.    Reduced to the failure of Prayer                   2:52
3.    Of Ash and Torment                                        2:55
4.    Choke Upon Betrayal                                      2:36
5.    Erased and Forgotten                                     2:24
6.    The Infernal Resurrection                              2:52
7.    Rejoice in Misery                                              2:47
8.    Cleaver of Souls                                                3:49
9.    Shredding Sacred Flesh                                  2:34
    10. Sink Beneath Insanity                                     2:55
    11. My Skin of Deceit                                              2:12

Every track on the album is really good, but a few highlights:

This Horrifying Force
Offers a good dose of the melodic line throughout.  It offers a killer lead-intro/buildup, which not only sets the tone for this song, but for the entire album. It’s easily my favorite track

Erased and Forgotten
More in your face, but a terrific rift throughout the central part of the track, highlighted by some great drumming underneath.

The Infernal Resurrection
Wonderfully catchy track that just never stops keeping the groove going.  The vocals are perfectly in sync with the instrumentation throughout the entire track.  Perhaps the best Skeletonwitch song period, including all previous releases.

My Skin of Deceit
A great last track, as it incorporates much of what the rest of the album offers, yet a tad bit on the heavier side, just to remind everyone what this band is all about.

After you pick the album up let me know what you think, I’d love to see those in agreement with my own viewpoint, as well as those with varying opinions.


  1. I like that you describe the songs individualy, I too, think there is much undiscovered talent, and successful indies, most of the time, are twice as talented as successful signed artists. I think they are also way more thankful, as they have to earn it harder, not to say that signed artists didn't have to, but now that they're signed they really don't have to worry about money..

  2. Oh, I agree regarding local and/or undiscovered talent. When I used to work for Virgin records I had this thing I'd say from time to time," all the big bands were small and unnoticed at one point in their careers." While this particular band is signed, I guess this discussion can cross the line regarding signed/unsigned, in that certain genres are dismissed almost immediately to the mainstream listener. While certainly every style and every sound is not for everyone, It used to amaze me to hear people say they didn't like one group or another, without having a clue as to what the group was all about and what their sound was/is. I agree with the harder working idea, but it works in reverse as well, where a group builds a following, which they all want, and they get big, which of course they want as well, but some change for the sake of change, because that's what bands that make it big do. That's when you'll start hearing the "they sold out" mantra being tossed about by fans. Thankfully, being a metalhead as I'm proud to be called, I've noticed that this "sell-out" factor rarely truly raises it's head when it comes to metal bands. Whether this has something to do with the metal mindset or being in a situation where even the most popular metal bands are still relatively unknown to most music listeners worldwide, but they stay pretty much steady for the most part, which is great from a fans point of view. And it seems when they do tinker around with their sound and change things a bit, it's almost always to build upon a particular idea or to improve their sound, and rarely done solely for the purpose of monetary gains mentality alone.

    As for the listing of some of the individual tracks, I do it to sort of show a bit of what I lead up to throughout the post and perhaps give a little idea of what to expect from the group/album before listening to the album. But one note I should mention, is that music is very taste orientated, meaning one should always hear a song or so from a new group before picking up a record, and although a review may, and hopefully such, push someone, or nudge perhaps, into checking a band out, it should never be the sole reason someone picks up an album, as tastes do differ and a sampling should be done to make sure that particular album suits the buyers individual taste. Really glad you appreciated it.

    Great feedback, I appreciate it very much and enjoyed this little discussion. I'm pretty passionate about many things, and as you can probably tell music, metal in particular, is definitely up their for me. Thanks again.