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Skeletonwitch Serpents Unleashed

Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed
01. Serpents Unleashed
02. Beneath Dead Leaves
03. I Am Of Death (Hell Has Arrived)
04. From a Cloudless Sky
05. Burned From Bone
06. Unending, Everliving
07. Blade On The Flesh, Blood On My Hands
08. This Evil Embrace
09. Unwept
10. Born of the Light That Does Not Shine
11. More Cruel Than Weak
Reviewed by: Daniel Marsicano   //   Published: 10/16/2013

If a band could be graded from a consistency standpoint, Skeletonwitch would get high marks. Though their debut At One with the Shadows had a few highlights, they began to find their style with the follow-up Beyond the Permafrost. Since that point, there hasn't been much to complain about. Their thrash metal-meets black metal-meets traditional metal sound hasn't grown stale thus far, thanks to its subtle melodic influences. Serpents Unleashed is far from experimental, but the band's fifth album is a sturdy bundle of cutthroat tunes.

The band viciously flies through 11 songs in just over 30 minutes, a common trait of their previous albums. With their typical approach, going for speed and intensity over progression, the length is perfect. Chance Garnette's raspy yells are sharp, and though variety isn't his strong suit, his voice has become one of the defining characteristics of Skeletonwitch. The same goes for the harmonic guitar work, which makes its presence felt on the grandiose opening to "Unending, Everliving."

The guitars get in sync at times, but for the most part, they speed ahead with raucous blackened thrash riffs. If there's something this band excels at, it's writing songs to mosh to. The title track is an anthem in the vein of "Submit to the Suffering," and it goes by just as quick as that excellent opener from Breathing the Fire. The middle of the album is one stellar jam after the next, including the ominous pull of "From a Cloudless Sky" and the explosive "Burned from Bone."

Though these songs rumble with little breathing room, there's no filler to weigh the album down. Each song has the right amount of punch, and the band adds in the occasional melodic lead break to keep the songs moving. The leads aren't just designated to the guitar either, with bassist Evan Linger launching a few noteworthy breaks of his own. "From a Cloudless Sky," "Blade on the Flesh, Blood on My Hands," and "Unwept" allow Linger the chance to go off on his own with a Steve Harris-esque fury.

In the wreckage that Skeletonwitch leaves behind with each passing album, there is usually an instance of clarity that provides momentary relief. "More Cruel Than Weak" fills this role with a stripped-down intro consisting of low-key guitar playing. It's not an acoustic, campfire melody, but a stirring extended build-up towards the inevitable massacre.

Skeletonwitch discovered what works for them years ago, and have spent the remaining time fine-tuning their songwriting. Serpents Unleashed is just as great as their past albums, and what it lacks in innovation is made up for by audacious energy. It's hard to stay seated when a Skeletonwitch song pops up, and Serpents Unleashed is full of songs that will get the same kind of reaction.

Bottom Line: Serpents Unleashed is another great dose of blackened thrash with a hint of old-school metal energy from Skeletonwitch.

anonymous   posted 12/28/2013 10:05:35 PM
Mmmm don't think "elitist metal heads" have beards and long hair, last time i saw, the elitists are the rich clean cut preppy kids who claim the "new age" "prog core" shit.
anonymous   posted 12/25/2013 2:44:37 PM
This shit sucks balls
RicardoDeJaneiro   posted 11/12/2013 6:10:15 AM
Islander makes background music for wrestling shows?
anonymous   posted 11/9/2013 12:13:43 AM
im surprised at how much islander sucks, considering that this "drummer" has dared to mock the almighty skeletonwitch. i thought you might actually bring something to the table. I'm disappointed in you.
anonymous   posted 10/30/2013 5:16:22 PM
I just want to be a lambgoat

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