Beyond The Permafrost

Written by: PP on 20/12/2007 03:28:26

The delight of a reviewer's task is that although one has to plow through a ton of meritless albums boasting of sheer mediocrity, occasionally you'll stumble on a record that you wouldn't otherwise have, that either blows you away completely or gets your head banging because of its awesomeness. That's roughly the effect that Skeletonwitch's new record "Beyond The Permafrost" had on me. It's an album which demonstrates that even extreme metal can be melodic and catchy without losing any of its credibility, and it does it well.

Think of Skeletonwitch as the death metal version of Darkest Hour, the metalcore / melodic metal band that has released two astonishingly good albums in the past two years. "Baptized In Flames", for example, could be directly lifted from Darkest Hour's seminal "Undoing Ruin" with its slick ultra melodic guitars, full of two-hand picking and huge atmospheric passages. But instead of screaming, a trait typical to metalcore bands, the Skeletonwitch vocalist follows death metal tradition by shrieking and growling deeply atop the technical guitars. The drums are left following the same path, although double-pedal blast beats aren't used nearly to the same extent as in conventional death metal. You could even think of the drums and the bass as merely supporting rhythmic devices, because it really is the guitars that steal the spotlight on the album.

Truth be told, it isn't exactly fair to be comparing Skeletonwitch to Darkest Hour as much as I do, given that the bands differ from each other quite remarkably despite the similar guitar tone and style. For instance, while the latter prefers somewhat slower songs to amplify the brilliance of their guitarists, Skeletonwitch prefers to dazzle the listener with lightning speed fretwork fitted into a remote bay area thrash styled setting. As if to underline we aren't dealing with the next Slayer here, the band throws in a couple of serpentine riffs to the mix in order to remind us about their death metal roots.

But unlike most bands in the genre, Skeletonwitch isn't afraid to throw in a catchy chorus even if clean vocals are out of the question - see the brutally growled chorus in the title track for a perfect example of what can be done with extreme metal while keeping it easily accessible to those who aren't usually fond of the genre.

So keeping in mind I've now mentioned three very different genres to describe how Skeletonwitch sounds, I'm sure you're starting to understand the gist of this album. "Beyond The Permaforst" takes the best elements from metalcore, thrash and death metal, and mixes them together into a unique sound that you won't have heard elsewhere. Just think of the band as metalcore without breakdowns and screaming, or alternatively, as technically proficient death metal that isn't as fixated on tearing you a new asshole as it is to get you enjoy some freaking enjoyable and catchy songs in an extreme metal format.


Download: Beyond The Permafrost, Baptized In Flames, East Into The Open Sea
For the fans of: Darkest Hour, 3 Inches Of Blood, Children Of Bodom
Listen: Myspace

Release date 15.10.2007
Prosthetic Records
Provided by Target ApS

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