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 Unleashed. TAG 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