Review – Skeletonwitch: Forever Abomination

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Review – Skeletonwitch: Forever Abomination
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Skeletonwitch: Forever Abomination
Melodic Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Prosthetic Records
October 11th, 2011
Release length: 33:09
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Skeletonwitch return to their fans with their fourth full-length album, Forever Abomination. This much-anticipated outing finds the band still signed to Prosthetic Records, their home since 2007’s successful Beyond the Permafrost. After a series of singles and an entry to the Decibel Magazine Flexi Series, the hard work in the studio has finally made its ways to the hands of their fans everywhere. But, was this all time well spent, or does Forever Abomination find the group dropping the ball?

Nothing has really changed too much since the band’s last release other than the fact that the music has become a little tighter. The quality to this album is what you would expect as well, but that’s largely just from the label we are dealing with. The guitars are strong and sound like what you want from a Thrash band in the eighties. There’s a bit of sharpness to them, though not much, and really concentrating on just making the material sound hard and heavy, but still catchy with aggression, which is captured well in the chords being played. The bass doesn’t really do much more than back up the guitars throughout the release, though some song it does shine through a little more such as with “The Infernal Resurrection” and the more upbeat passages that have catchier material that feels a little lighter for the sake of hooks and allows the bass to gleam through with some higher sounding notes, but which gives the track an additional layer. The chords of the bass may not be the deepest, but they work perfectly with the sound here and can be felt through the recording even on lower volume settings, allowing the instrument to be a pivotal piece of the band’s sound. The drumming here stands out well too with loud snares, bass kicks that have a slight click to them but not eliminating the additional bass it provides, and the cymbals sound good though slightly dwarfed by the louder snares. Vocally, the album goes the traditional Black Metal route, and the only problem here is that while the rest of the material being given to the listeners has plenty of energy, these vocals often don’t quite match it and can feel dull and listless here and there.

One of the best ways to sum up this album is to say it’s like Arch Enemy with the female vocals but handled by a male obviously, as well as without all the anthem material mixed with Black Metal and Thrash. This isn’t to say Forever Abomination is a rip-off of that band, but when it comes to the more melodic aspects, this is something you will pick up on, except here it’s so much better. Again, Skeletonwitch meld all these styles together superbly without any of it feeling forced or awkward. “This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)” shows all of this off nicely with the catchier, somewhat bass driven sound that is both intense and catchy, making head banging mandatory with plenty of seemless shifts between styles, though never really altered the aggressive sound and pace too much with each shift. The song’s introduction as well as it’s outro does a superb job of setting a but of a desolate atmosphere both to this song, as well as the rest of the album, though the conclusion here does seem to be cut off a bit too soon, or possibly even too late as “Reduced to the Failure of Prayer” slams right in without warning and comes through a bit awkwardly with how it’s timed. Again, the song’s more ruthless sound mixed with catchier melodic riffs really does the job well here, and incorporates some nice gutturals at appropriate times, all leading to a track that feels natural in its progression.

Of course, this general intensity works well when the band doesn’t try to milk it for long periods of time, which thankfully they don’t do. One of the charms to Skeletonwitch on here is they keep their songs short and don’t try to force them past the five-minute mark like many others who perform any style with the term “Black Metal” incorporated into it. Much of the album doesn’t even break the three-minute mark, and if it does by very little. Not many here really push that boundary. However, not all songs on here that are short work out well. “Erased and Forgotten” becomes one of the tracks here to show a vocal approach that doesn’t really work too with the energetic music due to how lifeless they end up sounding against it. This appears at times earlier and even later on in the mix, but this is one of those tracks that gets the blunt end of things. Luckily the following “The Infernal Resurrection” doesn’t suffer from this and offers a varied vocal performance of that raspy style the matches the initial upbeat Heavy Metal sound that eventually crashes into the intense mixture of Thrash and Melodic Death Metal hooks. Of course, the more Melodic Death Metal driven tracks are strong, but by far not the strongest. Songs like the intense “Of Ash and Torment,” “Cleaver of Souls,” and “Sink Beneath Insanity” that have a stronger focus on Thrash Metal than anything else really shows the band’s devotion to the vintage days of that style, as well as the sound typically associated with some early first wave Black Metal acts in that style, really creating an intense and sinister sound with each track.

Forever Abomination is just a great album with varied quality to each song. While the Thrash heavy songs here really stand out the most, it’s not to say the rest of the material here is bad. There’s a number of solid songs that incorporate more of a Melodic Death Metal sound, and some that don’t really stand out too strong, but none are really bad. The vocals can feel a lacking, but for the most part do a good job against the heavy and aggressive material present here, though a little more energy in the vocals period would have been nicer then the more traditional Black Metal performance we are given. Overall, if you’ve been a fan of Skeletonwitch before, there’s no reason to not pick this album up now. Even if you’re not, the band does a great job at sounding natural despite the number of styles involved in their music, and Forever Abomination greatly benefits from that, making to a solid, well composed full-length well worth looking into.


01. This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill) – 4:18
02. Reduced to the Failure of Prayer – 2:57
03. Of Ash and Torment – 3:00
04. Choke Upon Betrayal – 2:41
05. Erased and Forgotten – 2:28
06. The Infernal Resurrection – 2:56
07. Rejoice in Misery – 2:52
08. Cleaver of Souls – 3:56
09. Shredding Sacred Flesh – 2:39
10. Sink Beneath Insanity – 3:00
11. My Skin of Deceit – 2:16
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Skeletonwitch
Skeletonwitch

Digital review copy of this release provided by Prosthetic Records.