Nearly three years removed from Serpents Unleashed the boys in SKELETONWITCH are back, this time with an EP titled The Apothic Gloom, out August 19 via Prosthetic Records. Making his debut on vocals is Adam Clemans (WOLVHAMMER), and his voice suits the music very, very well. Is the sound somewhat different? Sure it is; a new singer will do that. But is that at all a bad thing in this case? Absolutely not. And worriest thou not, they are still delivering their trademark brand of Blackened Thrash metal that we’ve all come to love for a decade and change now.
Nate Garnette and Scott Hedrick’s guitar work, as always, is fiery and ferocious across these four tracks, and when combined with the bass work of Evan Linger and skin-pounding of Dustin Boltjes, it all comes together in a potent heavy metal hot sauce not for the weak-willed. The disc opener “The Apothic Gloom” starts much like an old car on a winter’s morning: slow to warm up before that old heater finally kicks on. Acoustic guitars give way to a nifty electric lead over a melody that builds and builds. Then at the 1:38 mark Almighty Hell breaks loose and the band is off and running.
Next up is “Well of Despair”, about as close to a vintage SKELETONWITCH song as you can get, while still being representative of the now. The riffs are glorious and Clemans owns the track from beginning to end. This is immediately followed by “Black Waters” which was another winning tune. There are hints of Black metal in this one, and the group just gels throughout. Closer “Red Death, White Light” is without a doubt the star of this show, though. A seven-minute plus epic, this track is perfect in every way. It manages to be atmospheric and heavy as all get-out at the same time, and demands you spin it again and again.
If this is just a glimpse into what the future holds for SKELETONWITCH, then count me in. The band sounds fantastic, the songs have amazing energy and spirit, and this combination should make for some hellacious live shows on their upcoming Curse of the Dead 2016 U.S. tour this fall. And if the four tunes from The Apothic Gloom don’t get you excited for their next full-length album, then you seriously need some time on the therapist’s couch.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Red Death, White Light”, “Well of Despair”