Breathing the Fire
Whenever a curious customer requests something new and exciting from the world of thrash/death/black metal, I always head straight for Skeletonwitch. Each and every time, these individuals are satisfied and join the growing masses who are singing this band's praises and spreading their music like wildfire. Hailing from Athens, Ohio, they are undoubtedly one of the strongest heavy outfits on the market, with a sound that transfers flawlessly from the recorded material to the live setting, creating one of the most outstanding musical experiences that one can find these days. In fact, for romantic weekend getaways, my wife and I opt away from the spa retreats and cozy mountain inns in order to travel to see the mighty Skeletonwitch anywhere and everywhere we can. Trust me, they are just that good.
With their new album, Breathing the Fire, Skeletonwitch brings forth a sound that expands their already massive brutality, at the same time remaining in the same stride that all fans have come to love. Their sound IS brutal, but not too overwhelming. Like the first album, Breathing the Fire is loaded with epic heavy metal that will satisfy fans ranging from Iron Maiden to Venom, to even Gorgoroth. With this record, Skeletonwitch aren't quite thrash, nor are they straight ahead, meat-head death metal or corpse paint-wearing, unholy black metal. They are simply a great, great heavy metal band. Vocalist Chance Garnette delivers both the growls and the throaty rasp that serves as your master of ceremonies during this musical journey. It is grand to hear a vocalist today who can do both well, giving the low rumble without the mind-numbing, Cookie Monster vocals entirely and the higher, faster register without losing all that he is saying. Trust me, the lyrics are meant to be heard on this one. Guitar wise, both Nate "N8 Feet Under" Garnette and Scott "Scunt" Hedrick pull off the double lead lines smoothly and lay tons of meaty, tasteful licks into the mix, keeping those long-haired heads bobbing. Both N8 and Scunt have a great ear for original hooks and appropriate placement, thus this guitar work and harmonies will have you humming these songs for days. The rhythm section brings the horsepower throughout the entire record and is the driving force behind these new songs. Drummer Derrick "Mullet Chad" Nau is a beast, whose double kick drum work ventures far beyond 32nd and 64th notes blast beats, giving a great sense of groove to the low end with tons of half and double times shifts, triplets, and straight 4/4 count single grooves. His tom fills and snare attacks set up the different tempos perfectly and can turn the mood of a song on a dime. Bass wise, Evan "Loosh" Linger reminds me a great deal of a player much like Steve Harris who can and does hold his own with the shredding guitars, while keeping things filled in down below. For me, highlights on this record include the uber epic, "Stand Fight and Die" and dark sounding "Released from the Catacombs" and "Gorge Upon My Soul."
Breathing the Fire is the total package, complete with great and synergistic artwork, lyrics, music, and attitude . From front to back, beginning to end, it is a strong album and another beacon added to the fog of heavy music in the future. Skeletonwitch is just getting started and the world should beware!-Andrew Bryant