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Album Reviews : Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed

By on November 6, 2013

Ohio’s blackened thrash giants, Skeletonwitch have a great formula that works perfectly for them and as per usual it has served them well once again with this year’s album number five “Serpents Unleashed”.
I’ll start by saying it is by no means a reinvention of the wheel, and there seems to be no strained and obvious attempt to outdo previous releases. But it’s not just another Skeletonwitch album to pass off as being a clone of previous releases, as some bands tend to repeat themselves after a few albums. On the contrary, Skeletonwitch just seem to get that bit better at what they do with each release and with an album this strong it proves that they haven’t shown any signs of weakening or slowing down since 2011’s “Forever Abomination”.

If you’re a long time fan, the usual fist pumping and head banging moments all remain. The drums are pummelling, the vocals scathing and gnarled and you can almost smell the beer in the air as each nod inducing riff tears by.
But do not rush through this album without an intent listen.
After getting through a few songs it is noticeable the band has put a stronger emphasis on hooks and melodies that will stick in your head and leave an impression, rather than churning out riff after scorching riff that is forgotten an hour later. The song writing as a whole seems to have matured and been more focused as no song is lacking in substance. Every song has its own identity and does not simply sound like the one before it which many bands in metal at times might struggle to do. For a band of this calibre, making sure your songs get stuck in listener’s heads is never a bad move. And making sure you have a great production is also wise and this time around Kurt Ballou of Converge was responsible for making sure everything sounded as great as it does. Certainly the clearest and heaviest production Skeletonwitch have had to date.

It’s worth saying every song is great, and no few songs on this record seems to be the best as all have their individual strengths. But however, some songs that stood out amongst the lot were “Beneath Dead Leaves” for having some of the strongest and most memorable hooks on the album. “Burned From Bone” being a very scathing and fast paced track. “Unending, Everlasting” which at times has a very “rocky” vibe and is sure to be a hit live. Finally “This Evil Embrace” stood out a great deal as a different take on the bands sound as it is the closest to straight up black metal the band has gone in recent years.

So sometimes the old and cliché term “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” stands firm and true. In Skeletonwitch’s case this is absolutely correct. This is an excellently crafted metal record with everything you could possibly want to hear from the band. For long time fans, this should not disappoint and it is certainly a great starting point for new fans.
Skeletonwitch are back and better than ever. 8/10

Band: Skeletonwitch
Album: Serpents Unleashed
Year: 2013
Genre: Blackened Thrash/Death Metal
Label: Prosthetic
Origin: USA
Website: www.facebook.com/skeletonwitchmetal

Track list:
1. Serpents Unleashed
2. Beneath Dead Leaves
3. I Am Of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
4. From a Cloudless Sky
5. Burned From Bone
6. Unending, Everliving
7. Blade On The Flesh, Blood On My Hands
8. This Evil Embrace
9. Unwept
10. Born of the Light That Does Not Shine
11. More Cruel Than Weak

About

Timothy Richmond, AKA Mothlord is currently the vocalist for the Melbourne death metal band The Seraphim Veil. In his spare time he is an avid gamer, enjoyer of films, music lover symbiotically attatched to his iPod, artist and occasional freelance illustrator at Mothlord Art & Design.