Review Summary: Skeletonwitch have crafted one hell of a banger with “Devouring Radiant Light”; a wondrously executed record filled with viciousness and morose joy that sees the Ohio natives operating with an ingenious understanding of modern metal.
Being from Columbus, Ohio I’ve been keenly aware of Skeletonwitch for some time now. Maybe it was the merch or their logo, but I was always under the impression that they played a commercial version of thrash or a standard brand of power metal—two areas of the metal spectrum I tend to unconsciously avoid. After stumbling upon Devouring Radiant Light
and finally giving Skeletonwitch a fair shake, I’ve realized that, surprise, my completely baseless assumptions were incorrect.
Devouring Radiant Light
is anything but commercial or standard; it’s a raucous and vicious black metal record in the vein of Reinkaos
era Dissection, with heavy middle-era Enslaved implications. It has a rollicking feel of Municipal Waste, with the thrashy worship of the Big Four. It calls on progressive influences without sound overtly “progressive,” meaning, it’s tethered to a defined vision with unlikely poise. Most surprising is the sheer variety of skills at play. “Carnarium Eternal” is a short and blistering track, with one foot in 80s thrash and the other in modern Nordic black metal. This butts up to “The Vault,” which has more in common with modern YOB than anything listed thus far. Meanwhile, “Temple of the Sun” throws in clean vocals for a mood unique amongst the rest of the album. It’s this wild mix of unstructured influences and chaos that would sink most albums, but Skeletonwitch keep everything jelled nicely with a pleasant, albeit surprisingly nuanced, production job via Kurt Ballou. All of this makes Devouring Radiant Light
a fun, taut, and compelling package of powerful black metal from a band of tried and true pros whose understanding of modern metal—and the subtlties and opportunities for bombast therein—is expert.