Review – Skeletonwitch: Breathing the Fire

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Review – Skeletonwitch: Breathing the Fire
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Skeletonwitch: Breathing the Fire
Melodic Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Prosthetic Records
October 13th, 2009
Release length: 35:58

Breathing the Fire marks the third full-length studio effort by the mixed style Metal act Skeletonwitch, showing great musical improvement, as well as some further inspirations from the older first wave Black Metal styles. While the band’s previous efforts are good, this one seems to be a much more solid and matured release through more natural transitions and more fluid music and vocals. With the act continuing to grow, mature, and expand musically, this album is proof that the band is almost there at creating an absolutely amazing album.

That isn’t to say that Breathing the Fire is bad at all. As a matter of fact, it’s great, but just misses the mark a little bit as far as the intensity goes, which may very well lay responsible from the production. The only downfall to this release, really, would be the lack of bite to the quality of the material. It’s all there though, the songs are hard-hitting, sound heavy, and blend the Speed, Thrash, and Melodic Black styles together fluidly. The only issue is that the record quality could have been better. The music winds up sounding a bit too clean and hollow, taking away some of the bite that a little distortion that is needed. Once you get acquainted with this during your first time through, however, the album winds up being a very enjoyable experience. There will still be tracks that may prove a little hard to look past this issue, like “Repulsive Salvation”, which could have greatly benefitted from a less-clean mix thanks to the fast and but only slightly changing guitar riffs used through the song.

There’s plenty of great songs on here, and many seem to jump around musically. On the first track you have some dual vocals going on between a raspy traditional Black Metal style, as well as some guttural vocal use to really amplify and push the song. This is something that would have been nice to have happen more through the CD, but instead seem to only be performed randomly through the album. “Repulsive Salvation” is a good example of this since the guttural appear here as well and it works with the song, but it almost seems like they just performed them to have them in there. Even with the production quality of the album taking some of the bite away, as mentioned, there are still some tracks that manage to hold their own.

“Longing For Domination” is a great track that really takes listeners back to the earlier first wave Black Metal acts while adding some melody to the mix to create a really catchy track. You also have “Gorge Upon My Soul” which really focuses on some complex guitar riffs and a guitar solo that will melt your soul, performed well enough to not come off as hollow as some of the earlier tracks on the album and really drive you crazy. The closing track, “…and into the Flame” is another track here that really can find the listener looking past everything of the album, the good and the bad, as this song really drives the album home well with its pounding drums and melody hooked guitar chords that try to bring an epic feeling to the song. While the song itself isn’t a truly epic track overall, the guitars definitely do give off that vibe well and get the listener’s blood pumping.

There’s no denying that Breathing the Fire has some great tracks and shows some real growth for the band. There are plenty of great tracks on here, but the only issue outside the quality of the sound here is that the vocalist almost seems to be teasing the fans with the included guttural vocals. If these vocals were used a bit more throughout more of the songs in a less-random pattern that seems as if the band is asking if they were ok to use, then it would be a completely different story. Hopefully this Skeletonwitch album winds up more as a blueprint album for a future release that finds use of a little more distortion in the final mix, as well as more growling, while keeping this intense, more refined sound. But, in the meanwhile, this CD will find plenty of time in whatever medium you use to listen to your music, as it is a solid effort that fans of any Metal style can willingly embrace and enjoy for extended periods of time without anything getting old in both the near, as well as distant, future.

01. Submit to the Suffering – 2:18
02. Longing for Domination – 2:47
03. Where the Light Has Failed – 2:18
04. Released from the Catacombs – 3:21
05. Stand Fight and Die – 3:32
06. The Despoiler of Human Life – 2:29
07. Crushed Beyond Dust – 2:33
08. Blinding Black Rage – 2:38
09. Gorge Upon My Soul – 3:43
10. Repulsive Salvation – 3:41
11. Strangled by Unseen Hands – 2:56
12. …and Into the Flame – 3:43
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Prosthetic Records.