Skeletonwitch, Forever Abomination

This is one of the blurbs that came with the advance of Skeletonwitch’s Forever Abomination:

Skeletonwitch has been called every name in the fucking book: death metal, black metal, thrash metal, speed metal, heavy metal, epic viking blackened thrash ‘n’ roll, and so on. It seems the only description everyone can agree on is metal.

Something you might need to know here:

The blurbs that come with advance copies of albums are RIDICULOUSLY hyperbolic– “this band will take your virginity, change your gender and make you smart enough to build a trans-dimensional teleporter to visit God himself– and then bitch-slap him in the face! (Also you’ll lose weight and gain lean muscle.)”

They’re almost an art form of intentional, nay, Voltaire-esque, excursions into world-bending parody. They’re so far over the top that their children never even knew there was a top to be over.

Have I made my point?

This in mind, the above Skeletonwitch quote is actually completely spot on: “epic viking blackened thrash ‘n’ roll” is a great description of the SW sound– as is “metal.”

“This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)” the album opener, starts with (old-school thrash style) the acoustic intro, segues into a very cool bay-area thrash breakdown riff at about 2:00, then fires off Maiden/Priest style dual-leads…. “Reduced to the Failure of Prayer” (great title) starts with particularly effective roaring from vocalist Chance Garnett (who I normally find a bit underwhelming) over Testament-like riffs and solos….

…and in all the songs you can not only hear the bass, but it’s usually playing a part separate from the leads– which illustrates the level of songwriting (or at least riff writing) here…

Track 3, “Of Ash and Torment” has a great melody at 1:00, and overall the best hooks on the album– comparable to “Within My Blood” and “Crushed Beyond Dust,” to me the highlights of their first two albums. This track also illustrates the second, and arguably best, illustration of SW’s songwriting skill–

These songs are short.

Not Grind/ punk short, but rarely over 3 minutes. They get in, they rock out, they get out. The songs are usually over before you realize it– and makes me wish SW would hold a workshop for doom/sludge bands (my true love) about how to write short songs. Yeah, sometimes length is the point, but more often than not a good doom song could be made great by being half as long, amirite?

All the tracks, particularly “Shredding Sacred Flesh” and “Cleaver of Souls” are unapologetically metal (i.e., awesomely ridiculous/ ridiculously awesome), and as the songs unfurl all the melodies sound something Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” (not a bad thing at all) and the guitars have that Gibson-straight-into-Marshall sound from Kill ’em All.

In fact, that’s the best description of Skeletonwitch as heard on Forever Abomination: 1982 Metallica covering Iron Maiden with Cronos singing.

Not original at all, but excepting that– perfect.


  1. Yeah, I totally agree about the vocals: you can’t sound like much like Iron Maiden and not seem lacking in the vocal department with the spoken/rasped vocals. I really like, though, that they seem to just use everything, every genre, wherever: very similar in that way to Revocation (though they don’t sound alike).

    Supposedly they’re ridiculously good live; I would be really curious to see that.

  2. Never got round to checking out Skeletonwitch before…

    Just listened to Of Ash and Torment and was on the fence until that 1:00 or so mark and then boom, that lacing of melody takes the song to a whole new level. They just seem to crank up a gear and race home on those soaring leads. Love the drumming too. Such a satisfying thump to those bass hits. I’m not particularly fond of the vocals though – I just don’t think blackened vocals work that well with this NWOBHM-inspired classic thrash. Overall: a top notch song.

    (listens to a few more tracks on YouTube) I think it’s the Maiden-isms that make this so listenable. I usually find modern thrash a bit boring but I could get into this, it’s pretty fun. It’s also flawlessly executed and has great production. Oh and that last section of Cleaver of Souls? Totally shit-eating grinningly awesome!

  3. Always good to see a positive review, I’m seeing Skeletonwitch along with Fleshgod Apocalypse supporting The Black Dahlia Murder in January which I’m really excited about.

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