A gloomier and evolved approach
Skeletonwitch is band that I’ve been ignoring since their excellent sophomore effort Beyond the Permafrost mostly because I stopped following melodic death metal except perhaps for a very small number of bands like Dark Tranquillity. Following the departure of founding vocalist Chance Garnette (I guess he became unlucky?), the American quintet managed to revitalize their sound with this sweet extended play.
The sound of the Ohio based band has always been a mishmash of styles surrounding their melodeath core like their thrash leanings. They also had some black metal elements as well but, as far as I remember, those were never as obvious as they are here. I feel the melodic black approach those guys took here has injected some life in their formula and the addition of vocalist Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer) adds a certain blackened sludge/crust. The final track of this EP, “Red Death, White Light” (the title reminds me of a The Velvet Underground album) is basically a mix of their melodeath sound with a shitload of post-black metal and it’s superbly done. Clemans’ vocals are not as insanely high as Garnette’s but I think he did a fantastic job and he fits the style.
The first three tracks, while good, just don’t reach the same level as the last track. The two tracks sandwiched between the title track and the seven minutes closer are fast bangers with a lot of groove but they just don’t do much to reinvent the formula (not that it was needed, you could say). The first track, “The Apothic Gloom” brings a certain melancholia to the EP with its soft introduction and some Swedish doomy death feels. I was almost reminded of Tribulation’s The Formulas of Death and their semi-gothic influence with this track. There’s a musical depth in those songs just like the death metal played by bands such as Horrendous. It’s not just pure melodic aggression.
Skeletonwitch are once again successful at melding genres together and things are looking well for their next full length album if they continue to expand their sound like they did with this release. Maybe someone will give them a leaf stone so they can evolve Gloom into Vileplume and be even better.