Skeletonwitch
Devouring Radiant Light


4.5
superb

Review

by WinterMartyrium1992 USER (28 Reviews)
July 28th, 2018 | 101 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Masterfully closes Skeletonwitch’s well-loved blackened thrash period while simultaneously opening up new sonic territories to explore in this and future releases.

Very few metal albums have had me awaiting for their arrival this year with as much enthusiasm and high expectations as Skeletonwitch’s Devouring Radiant Light. Compared to other young bands that were part of the early/mid-2000s retro thrash wave, Skeletonwitch has been one of the few modern thrash groups that has known how to adapt with the times and go beyond the first two or three studio albums (a very common problem among thrash revival bands). Although their influences and their love for old school metal is palpable and perceptible in their sound, Skeletonwitch’s instrumentation and songwriting leans towards a too dead serious, dark and clean approach to be categorized on the same ''pizza thrash/retro-thrash'' labels as their peers.

Skeletonwitch’s sound is violent, vicious but always highly tuneful, featuring a great variety of influences, styles and eras of metal for a different brand of thrash (notably the inclusion of melodic hooks, energetic riffs and dazzling guitar harmonies that bring to mind traditional heavy metal and the Gothenburg scene). In general, each album from 2007’s Beyond the Permafrost through 2013’s Serpents Unleashed more or less carried the same relentless and visceral sound throughout. However, while the band’s formula proved to be a success and contributed to a fairly enjoyable and consistent discography, some began to wonder if Skeletonwitch was capable of anything more than their usual melodic blackened thrash sound. Thankfully the band decided to switch things up a little with this year’s Devouring Radiant Light.

Skeletonwitch’s new direction will probably not please everyone, with the band’s fan base already split into two groups. One group, consisting of old followers and newcomers, is going to support the direction Skeletonwitch is going in alongside new vocalist Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer, Veil of Maya), and accompanied by Converge’s guitarist Kurt Ballou in production. The other group mostly consists of older fans, who might either take a while to completely digest the change or criticize the new material due to its notorious differences with the band’s usual three-minute thrash bangers, when Chance Garnette was the vocalist. Regardless of what you think about the band, one thing became clear since the album artwork and the lead single ''Fen of Shadows'' were revealed; Devouring Radiant Light marks a new chapter in Skeletonwitch’s history, a chapter that introduces us to a cold, mystical, mature and different band. If anything, Skeletonwitch’s sixth full-length depicts a looming and feral sense of obscurity with an emphasis on somber atmospheres, more involved songs and a greater dissonance and rawness compared to their previous works.

Instrumentally Skeletonwitch are still on top form as musicians, with stellar guitar duo Nate Garnette and Scott Hedrick still being the main standout features of the band’s sound. A dissonant and huge wall of guitars emanates throughout the album, with plenty of crunchy, rocking riffs during the shorter numbers as well as moments of respite and calm with slow and tasteful passages. The dense drumming patterns are faster than previously while Clemans’ forceful, throat-ripping guttural vocals provide a rougher, black metallish rasp to the band’s sound. The best moments of Devouring Radiant Light however come in the high level of songwriting, the band’s newfound ability to create longer compositions and their desire to refresh their sound and venture outside their comfort zone at this point in their career.

The variety of passages and ideas in each song prevents the album from blending together stylistically. There are occasions on here where the music acquires an imposing, hellish and thunderous atmosphere thanks to the band’s atonal, infectious performances (the unrelenting, insanely cruel main hook on ''Carnarium Eternal,'' the explosive and stormy introduction to ''Sacred Soil''), moments for cold and fresh melodies and majestic, stylish passages like on the 2:38 mark of the closer ''Sacred Soil,'' the grandiose introduction of ''Fen of Shadows'' or the hypnotizing guitars at the end of ''When Paradise Fades.'' Skeletonwitch’s energy thrives in songs such as ''The Luminous Sky'' (which hearkens back to the Forever Abomination days) and ''When Paradise Fades,'' which offer fun, headbanging moments to the listener with series of hard-hitting, tighter riffs, while ''Temple of the Sun'' benefits from an icy, adventurous and blazing atmosphere thanks to a notorious bass presence, Clemans’ incessant and wild vocal delivery that matches the intensity of the song and the inclusion of epic-sounding clean-sung vocal harmonies near the end.

The shorter, unbridled numbers masterfully make it clear that the old ‘witch sound hasn’t disappeared yet, but it’s on the album’s strongest, most extensive compositions what truly sets Devouring Radiant Light apart from previous Skeletonwitch releases. Whether it be the multiple passages in the stunning opener ''Fen of Shadows'' (a great combination of chaos and beauty) or the bleak, lengthy introduction to the nine-minute stomping monster ''The Vault,'' it’s clear that Skeletonwitch aren’t afraid to accentuate their blackened influences and flirt with unfamiliar elements. The title track manages to stand out as another example of the band maturing as songwriters; an ethereal, slow introduction followed by colossal, mid-paced verses, only to be interspersed between fierier, crushing and terrific passages with an outstanding vocal work, ranging from intense shrieks to intimidating, possessed growls. That may seem a bit samey and repetitive, especially for a six-and-a-half-minute juggernaut, but Skeletonwitch make each section engaging, powerful and memorable enough, as well as avoid overloading the song with endless instrumental jams or impenetrable nonsense.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the band gets new fans thanks to this album. The band’s ability to remain as an interesting metal phenomenon in recent years is impressive, and all the new elements and high quality that surrounds Devouring Radiant Light should make Skeletonwitch’s music very attractive for fans of extreme metal who are not into modern thrash metal per se. There’s no doubt that Ohio’s extreme metallers have come up with a different and remarkable effort, and the dedication, confidence and evolution shown by the band are enough reasons to make Devouring Radiant Light a release that shouldn’t be precipitately ignored this year.



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3.8
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Comments:Add a Comment 
RippingCorpse1986
July 28th 2018


3229 Comments


Haven't written a review in like 5 months so constructive criticism is very welcome. Been enjoying this album sooooo much.

Stream the album here: https://skeletonwitch.bandcamp.com/album/devouring-radiant-light

https://open.spotify.com/album/03T9bKKlfydmgyarZCKlDo

Toondude10
July 28th 2018


15179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

isn't this the band that got banned by Disney or something?

Essence
July 28th 2018


6689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sick review, didn't know this was out

rabidfish
July 28th 2018


8652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yea this got a review, fucking finally



ok, so at first this was way too different from what i've come to expect from SW, but tbh after repeated listens its grown on me a lot. I still think i like their blackened thrash more, but if they continue down this path with the same stellar performances and maybe go for a middle ground between atmospheric shit and riff-heavy shit i'd be so down for that.



Still, solid af record, fen of shadows is top 3 SOTY.

Toondude10
July 28th 2018


15179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album is fucking sick so far



also didn't know the vocalist was the original vocalist of Veil of Maya

bloc
July 28th 2018


69363 Comments


This album was def a pleasant surprise. One of the better thrash albums of the year imo.

RippingCorpse1986
July 28th 2018


3229 Comments


''isn't this the band that got banned by Disney or something?''
Yeah that happened in like 2013 if I recall correctly.

Glad y'all are digging this album. Title track crushes skulls.

Toondude10
July 28th 2018


15179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

definitely one of my favorite metal albums of the year for sure

rabidfish
July 28th 2018


8652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

i didn't know disney booked metal bands to play in the park.



A disney ban is certified m/, tho lmao

RippingCorpse1986
July 28th 2018


3229 Comments


This and the new Black Fast are outstanding thrash metal this year, but I've been digging this album more tbh. It sounds meatier, more diverse and epic imo.

teamster
July 28th 2018


6205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is this as good as Witchery's last two albums?

bloc
July 28th 2018


69363 Comments


10 times better than any of their older albums.

As for new Revo, that might top this imo

RippingCorpse1986
July 28th 2018


3229 Comments


Need to hear the new Revocation song. Also ''Great Is Our Sin'', I hope the album clicks with me this time.

Not sure about Witchery though. 2016's In His Infernal Majesty's Service is one of the modern thrash albums I'd recommend to anyone. I'd say this is at the same level, if not more.

rabidfish
July 28th 2018


8652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

unleash the serpents > this





teamster
July 28th 2018


6205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You are referring to Revocation yes?

teamster
July 28th 2018


6205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Ripping - fuck yea! My feelings exactly about In His Infernal Majesty's Service. Terrific album. If this is on par with that I will definitely check.

bloc
July 28th 2018


69363 Comments


Haha oh by Witchery, I thought you were talking about Skeletonwitch. Didn't realize Witchery was a totally diff band.

teamster
July 28th 2018


6205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bloc - you should check out the last two albums from Witchery - great stuff.

RippingCorpse1986
July 28th 2018


3229 Comments


Don't forget Witchaven and Black Witchery hahaha.

ALL HAIL TO THE WITCH!!! m/

check out the last two albums from Witchery [2]

teamster
July 28th 2018


6205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh and NIN - Bad Witch ...lol



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