Skeletonwitch
Serpents Unleashed


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Newton USER (46 Reviews)
January 16th, 2014 | 31 replies


Release Date: 10/29/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Skeletonwitch's latest and greatest comes and goes before you know what hit you, so you're probably gonna have to play it again. And again.

Everyone knows that thrash is all about the riffs, but what’s behind great riffage? If you’re going by Skeletonwitch’s latest effort, the answer is pure energy. With eleven songs clocking in at less than three minutes apiece, Serpents Unleashed is a dissertation on explosive songwriting from the Ohio blackened thrash veterans. Arguably the group’s most cohesive effort to date, the album meshes a variety of influences and styles while showcasing some of the strongest pieces in Skeletonwitch’s catalogue. Purists need not fret, though, for Serpents Unleashed leaves no doubt that it’s meant to get mosh pits moving and hearts racing in proper thrash metal fashion.

The main challenge in crafting such brief statements is making them memorable, and Serpents Unleashed repeatedly rings true in that regard. Few moments on the album feel rehashed, as guitarists Nate “Big Cat” Garnette and Scott Hedrick lay down riffs of constantly varying tempo and feel. The title track bursts out of the gate with pounding tom-toms, rapidly switching between hardcore and blast beats before serving up an Iron Maiden style chorus – with those distinctive backbeat crash/chord hits – a minute and a quarter in. “Beneath Dead Leaves” follows with a gigantic opening straight out of Bergtatt’s title track that transitions into machine-gun drumming and slithering, fuzzy guitar leads. Between that and a clean ending solo, the band even finds time for a pair of groovy choruses to break things up rhythmically.

Speaking of which, the band’s rhythm section stands out particularly well on Serpents; this is partially due to the air-tight playing of drummer Dustin Boltjes and bassist Evan Linger, and partially because the album’s mix screams of old-school analog production. The trend on recent thrash albums (even excellent releases like Revocation’s self-titled) is for the guitars to reign supreme while the drums slice and dice in the background and the bassist floats around in distant space; here, the mix sounds very balanced, with each piece picking up where another leaves off. Chance Garnette’s range here is comparable to At the Gates’ Tomas Lindberg, with a somewhat less piercing rasp, which fits well with the album’s overall sound. Chance’s vocals sit somewhere in the middle of the mix, his percussive intonations often panned and echoed heavily during peak moments to let the instrumental parts shine.

Perhaps the main shortcoming of Serpents Unleashed is that it does run so short. When the band brings in a fresh idea, it often only lasts a few measures – take the soaring riff in “Burned from Bone,” a monumental lick that could carry a much longer song, but since “Burned from Bone” clocks in at only two and half minutes, it only has time to show up for a grand total of forty-two seconds. Elsewhere, “This Evil Embrace” features a perfectly timed harmonized guitar solo, one that’s primed to explode when it fizzles out to end the piece. Ultimately, Skeletonwitch’s brevity does much more good than harm, though, and Serpents Unleashed comes off as a tour de force that demands to be played on repeat. Skeletonwitch has been a breakout candidate for years, and now a decade into their career, they’ve finally laid down an album that can play with the big boys of thrash.



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user ratings (95)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
pedro70512
January 15th 2014


3654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First posted on MuzikDizcovery.com

Digging: Taravana - A Visible Chill

PsychicChris
January 16th 2014


217 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about this album. It's well put together but it all feels so same-ish compared to Beyond the Permafrost or Forever Abomination. Great band but one that I wish I liked more than I do.

tempest--
January 16th 2014


14641 Comments


their best alb agred m//

ExcentrifugalForz
January 16th 2014


1859 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good album

keeps me going at night

Vakarian12
January 16th 2014


3925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good to see this finally get a review great job

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2014


6344 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Album stream - http://skeletonwitch.bandcamp.com/album/serpents-unleashed

Fun album, but nothing too memorable, for me at least.

Digging: Aspherium - The Fall of Therenia

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
January 16th 2014


1922 Comments


Not heard this album yet, but given that I'm a massive fan of the band (more because of their live performance than studio albums in fact), I'm sure to give this a go sometime soon. Nice review.

Digging: Execration (NOR) - Morbid Dimensions

pedro70512
January 16th 2014


3654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually wasn't a big fan of "Repulsive Salvation" off the Prosthetic sampler at the time. I'm glad I went back and gave these guys another look.

pedro70512
January 16th 2014


3654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the links Voivod

BigHans
January 16th 2014


26454 Comments


so hard does this thrash does it thrash hard?

CaptainDooRight
January 16th 2014


30338 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Even though I reviewed 'Forever Abomination' I'm kinda afraid to listen to this. Is it better?

tempest--
January 16th 2014


14641 Comments


yea cap this is easily their best work and surprisingly solid for modern thrash

CaptainDooRight
January 16th 2014


30338 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Well that's quite intriguing. OK, well I'll definitely check it out today then after I get out of this meeting.

pedro70512
January 16th 2014


3654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Maybe Doo will finally like an album I review haha

KILL
January 16th 2014


72280 Comments


band is





Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

CaptainDooRight
January 16th 2014


30338 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Haha Alex I like Ulcerate, Swans, and occasionally Giant Squid

pedro70512
January 16th 2014


3654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can't go wrong with Ulcerate or Giant Squid. This is a whole other ballgame though...I've been focused a lot on post-metal and progressive in my reviews so this is new territory for me.

titanslayer
January 18th 2014


2117 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sounds interesting

titanslayer
January 18th 2014


2117 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Everyone knows that thrash is all about teh riffs"
I know its a joke but it kinda bothers me that you misspelled something in the review itself.

pedro70512
January 18th 2014


3654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I guess it doesn't look very professional. I'll just spell it right and let the italics do their job.



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