Thursday, 2 January 2014

CD Review: Beyond The Permafrost, by Skeletonwitch (2007)

The second studio album from Ohio's Skeletonwitch is full of quantity and quality, but Beyond The Permafrost may be literally and figuratively a bit too fast for its own good. The record is packed with melodic thrash death metal played at hyperspeed, maniacal strumming, durable melodies, and Chance Garnette's scratchy growl vocals dominating an uncamouflaged frontal assault.

But despite including a hefty twelve tracks, Beyond The Permafrost in totality runs for about 36 minutes. Five of the cuts clock in at under 3 minutes, and the longest song, Within My Blood, is still a relatively brisk 4:12. The album is full of good ideas, but the band is perhaps not yet mature enough to develop them into weightier compositions. More passages with scrubbed off speed and the addition of more complex variations on the main themes would be welcome evolutions.

Within the prevailing brevity, there is plenty to enjoy. Opener Upon Wings Of Black sets the tone with an illegal speed blurring down the road, riding Derrick Nau's massive drums. Baptized In Flames is among the more ambitious tracks, and introduces a more deliberate, thoughtful tempo before breaking into an infectious staccato-riff. Feast Upon Flesh returns to the fastest possible speed of riffing, and still finds time to play with horror-movie themes.

Within My Blood ends the album with a sublime re-imagining of Iron Maiden's harmonies within a melodic death metal / thrash context, Nate Garnette and Scott Hedrick channeling and modernizing Adrian Smith and Steve Murray. The result is a hypnotic classic, the final two minutes almost exclusively dedicated to the magical guitar duel, the best evidence of the potentially massive talent residing within Skeletonwitch.


Nate Garnette - Guitars
Scott Hedrick - Guitars
Chance Garnette - Vocals
Eric Harris - Bass
Derrick Nau - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1.Upon Wings Of Black - 9
2. Beyond The Permafrost - 7
3. Baptized In Flames - 9
4. Sacrifice For The Slaughtergod - 7
5. Vengeance Will Be Mine - 7
6. Limb From Limb - 7
7. Cast Into The Open Sea - 8
8. Fire From The Sky - 8
9. Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery - 8
10. Remains Of The Defeated - 7
11. Feast Upon Flesh - 9
12. Within My Blood - 10

Average: 8.00

Produced by Cory Smoot and Skeletonwitch.
Mastered by Alan Douches.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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