Are You Ready to Worship the ‘Witch Once More?

Ohio black/thrash/death road warriors Skeletonwitch are set to unleash a new EP, their first with vocalist Adam Clemens, in just two short weeks. Does the new material live up to the rollicking hell ride of the band’s already substantial discography? Check out two tracks from The Apothic Gloom below and find out!

The Apothic Gloom finds Skeletonwitch in a bit of a weird spot. The album after the departure of a longtime vocalist is always seen as a proof of concept, and the ‘Witch have even taker the harder route of attempting to evolve their sound beyond past releases. If you’re crunching the math, you’ll see that all amounts to an album that could (and does) sound quite different from where the band has been before. How different, you ask? Here’s the score:

1. Adam Clemens has a distinct voice from Chance Garnette. Where Garnette was all throaty sneer, Clemens is a more standard growler, shredding his larynx in a higher register that would feel less at home in a more thrash-oriented band.

2. Speaking of thrash, TAG draws much less from that particular genre than previous albums, especially in comparison to the frequent rhythmic two-steps and galloping riffs of Serpent UnleashedTAG is almost entirely based in the melodic death metal wheelhouse with some slight black metal trappings here and there.

3. The production on this new EP is crisper and cleaner than past efforts. While that allows the layered, nuanced riffs to shine over the frequent blasts, there is a distinct lack of the grit and grime that seemed to dribble out of Garnette’s mouth onto the past material’s audio quality. The drums are a bit more clicky than I’ve noticed with prior releases, as well.

Those of you who fear change may be wondering if all this evolution is a good thing. Thankfully, The Apothic Gloom rrrrrrippps. While the band’s sound may be more serious and somber this time around, it’s also sharper and tighter. The riffs have a razor edge, and there’s more punch to the drums thanks to the frequent use of interesting fills and rolling double bass. In fact, I’d go so far as to say two of the four tracks of this EP are some of the best the band has ever written, and if you haven’t heard them yet, you can actually check out both tracks now!

“Well of Despair” features some of the most killer riffs the band has ever penned. Just check out the way the band dives like a lusty bird of prey from a whirlwind of drum fills around the 2:40 mark into a headlong riff maelstrom before tearing eardrums to shreds with a descending scale run. “Red Death, White Light” is no slouch either, notable for being both the band’s longest song to date and for capturing a sense of grandeur and scale unique in the band’s discography. From the opening pinched lead lines mirroring the rhythmic riffs to the harmonized melodic lines midway through the song to the layered tremolo assault at the song’s outro underneath a call-and-response style echo shriek from Clemens, every aspect of this song screams that this band has harnessed a new might and majesty that bodes well for the future. It’s an incredible track and a perfect end to the album.

The other two songs, “The Apothic Gloom” and “Black Waters” are perfectly serviceable, employing some old trademarks of the band’s sound, but they don’t quite capture the raw potential of the new Clemens-led lineup like the two advance tracks. Fans of the band will immediately recognize the acoustic intros and melodic solos used in these tunes, so if you take comfort in predictability, these songs are for you.

If, however, you want to see a promise of this band’s future potential, “Well of Despair” and “Red Death, White Light” are excellent tastes of what’s to come, the latter especially standing head and shoulders above most of the band’s material to date and commanding me to mash that replay button over and over again. The Apothic Gloom isn’t perfect, but it is an excellent blueprint of the new edifice Clemens is helping the ‘Witch erect, and at the end of the day, it still rocks and riffs as well as anything else the band has ever penned.

If you like what you hear, you can pre-order The Apothic Gloom on Bandcamp. Note that the two physical packages are already sold out ahead of the album’s August 19th release date, so you may need to keep an eye on the band’s official website for updated offers. The ‘Witch are also on a big ‘ol tour of North America, so catch them at a stop near you. Finally, swing by the ‘Book and worship the witch!

Aug 04 L’Anti Quebec, Canada
Aug 05 Ritual Ottawa, Canada
Aug 06 Katacombes Montréal, Canada
Aug 08 Rum Runners London, Canada
Aug 09 Lee’s Place Toronto, Canada
Aug 11 Crocks Thunder Bay, Canada
Aug 13 Windsor Hotel Winnipeg, Canada
Aug 15 Amigos Saskatoon, Canada
Aug 16 Mercury Room Edmonton, AB
Aug 17 DICKENS PUB Calgary, Canada
Aug 19 Rickshaw Theatre North Vancouver, Canada
Aug 20 Logan’s Pub Victoria, Canada
Aug 22 The “PIN” Spokane, WA
Aug 25 The Frequency Madison, WI
Aug 26 The Firebird St Louis, MO
Aug 27 Ace of Cups Columbus, OH
Sep 25 The Grog Shop Cleveland, OH
Sep 28 The Mothlight Asheville, NC
Sep 29 The Earl Atlanta, GA
Sep 30 The Jinx Savannah, GA
Oct 01 Crowbar Tampa, FL
Oct 02 The Atlantic Gainesville, FL
Oct 04 Siberia New Orleans, LA
Oct 05 White Oak Music Hall Houston, TX
Oct 06 RBC Dallas, TX
Oct 07 barracuda Austin, TX
Oct 09 The Rebel Lounge Phoenix, AZ
Oct 10 Brick by Brick San Diego, CA
Oct 11 The Roxy Theatre West Hollywood, CA
Oct 12 DNA Lounge San Francisco, CA
Oct 14 Panic Room Portland, OR
Oct 15 Highline Seattle, WA
Oct 17 Metro Bar SLC Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 18 Marquis Theater Denver, CO
Oct 19 The Riot Room Kansas City, MO
Oct 20 Vaudeville Mews Des Moines, IA
Oct 21 Triple Rock Social Club Minneapolis, MN
Oct 22 Subterranean Chicago, IL
Oct 23 5th Quarter Lounge Indianapolis, IN
Oct 25 Cattivo Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 26 Underground Arts Philadelphia, PA
Oct 28 Saint Vitus Brooklyn, NY
Oct 29 Metro Gallery Baltimore, MD
Oct 30 Hardywood Brewery Richmond, VA

Written by:

Published on: August 4, 2016

Filled Under: New Stuff

Views: 650

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  • Stanley

    These guys eat riffs for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • For shitz and gigglez I did a search for “Witch” in Metal Archives. I was disappointed, there are only 132 bands with “Witch” in their name.

    There is a “Buffalo Witch”. Guess “Buffalo Wild Wings Witch” was taken. My favorite is “Man-Witch” though. That’s the real winner in my book.

    Also, that’s a shit ton of tour dates.

    • Dubbbz

      Road warriors, dude.

    • Howard Dean

      One of the better “Witch” metal bands is the stoner/doom band from Brattleboro, VT with the extremely generic moniker, “Witch.” Good stuff. They were sort of ahead of the curve and preceded the retro/stoner revival by a few years. J. Mascis from the alternative band Dinosaur Jr. is their drummer.

      This album kills.

      • It’s odd, I can’t see that you posted this on here in real time, but I do get email notifications that you have responded to me. I have to refresh the page every time someone comments back to me (Sorry Joe). Hope this gets resolved soon.

        Anyways, gonna check this out here. Thanks for the rec.

      • Goddamn, this is some psychedelic stuff. I can get into this.

        • Howard Dean

          Yeah. I think these dudes must roast about a pound of weed a week.

      • RJA

        Was just listening to J. Mascis shred this morning on new Dinosaur Jr. stuff – that guy can play a mean guitar.

      • Lacertilian

        Yup, Seer and Rip Van Winkle have served me well over the years. Their only (?) other album is a bit odd, I kinda like it but can understand why others didn’t.

        • Howard Dean

          Yeah, the first four tracks on the debut S/T are choice. My favorites of the record. I actually live fairly close to these guys, but have never heard of them performing nearby (they very well may have, and I just wasn’t aware).

          Agreed. The second album is a bit different. But I like or, as well.

  • Joaquin Stick

    I dig this new direction as well. I always kinda liked the band, but I think I’ll actually listen to this EP regularly.

  • Howard Dean

    Holy fuck @ that tour. I had to go make a cup of coffee after reading all those dates, and I still feel exhausted.

    I’ve always been kind of ambivalent towards Skeletonwitch, which is strange because they bring the riffs and should contain most of the elements I enjoy in metal. Also, reading that album title made me go “where have I heard something like that before?” and then my synapses connected:

    • I’m right there with you. They seem like the full metal package, but I just don’t care much for them. Also, upvote for Sinmara!

    • Dubbbz

      I was thinking the same thing regarding Aphotic. It’s been popping up a lot in recent months.

    • Megan Alexandra

      Yeah. It’s got all the right parts but they kind of fit together in a generic way. Like Lego pieces. Not hating on the band, they’re super fun but that’s about it IMO

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    I enjoy the new direction. The two last albums have smelled like the band wanted to make for something a bit different , but didn’t really know where to go. Losing Chance seems to have given them the perfect… chance… to take a free’er rein over their material.

    • Stanley

      I’m confused with this new direction you’re all talking about. Both these songs would fit perfectly well on Serpents Unleashed, especially Well of Despair.

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Way less thrash, more melodeath/black. Both of these sound 100% Skeletonwitch, but there is a change in the songwriting.

      • Dubbbz

        The two tracks that aren’t up for streaming definitely sound like they could have been on Serpents Unleashed.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    Coming to the Mothlight? Guess whos going to that shitttt

  • New vocals definitely fit the more recent style of Skeletonwitch, but I still miss their early days of being raw, buzzy, and riffier. It’s still good to see how far they’ve come though, and I’m happy for them.

    Appropriate song title

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    They ripped when I saw them a few months back. The new guy does a pretty good job with the old material as well

  • Ayreonaut

    Hell yeah!

  • tigeraid

    I dig, I dig. New vocalist is juuust fine.

  • This is goooood stuff.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    something in my pocket hit the pause button on my screen and skeletonwitch started blasting in this old ladys garage while i was talking to her.

    thanks, skellywitch

  • I did not expect this guitar tone, and I’m very glad of it. It sounds very blackish and icy.

    W, thanks for this. I am digging what I am listening!!!

  • Waynecro

    I’ve never been super into Skeletonwitch, but I dig these new jams–especially “Well of Despair.” Thanks, Dubs!

  • JWEG

    I knew about the Rickshaw, but Logans is definitely a much less substantial trek, and without a necessary overnight stay.

    I should check the ticket sitch. Can’t imagine there will be the option of paying to get in on arrival for this one.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    That artwork is awesome as well

  • OldMetalHead

    I was supposed to see these guys open for Amon Amarth when Chance started going through his meltdown or whatever. I know they did some shows with no singer, but by the time they got to Albany, they’d quit the tour all together. I’m looking forward to the new EP and possibly seeing them this time.

  • Were you saying “The Aphotic Gloom” on purpose that whole time?

    • Dubbbz