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Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed Review

by Matt Hensch

I like Skeletonwitch. Everything is straightforward and unchanged throughout "Serpents Unleashed" as expected, but I'm on board. I guess I've come to see Skeletonwitch as a band that writes music specifically intended for the live environment after having seen them perform a number of times and diving into their other records. One could argue that the band's style is once more an indistinguishable representation of the black/thrash metal theme incorporated throughout Skeletonwitch's previous outings, sure, but unlike so many groups that run the same routine over and over again, they do what they do very well. It's the artistic insignificance to "Serpents Unleashed" and Skeletonwitch in general that makes the group and their music, well, significant. This is more of the same, but I'm not whining.

Skeletonwitch's style is more user-friendly than the works of Destroyer 666 or other factions not too foreign to this arrangement of various extreme metal genres. Simply put, the overall texture is much simpler to digest and comprehend. Just like the other Skeletonwitch albums (now known as "the others"), there isn't any degree of complexity to anything, really. Not that that's a bad thing, however; the type of black/thrash metal they've once again replicated sounds fresher than ever. Going into the specifics of Skeletonwitch's identity is a bit tricky, but I'll give it a go: the bacon is in the guitar playing, the percussion, and the songwriting. Although they've essentially released the same record five times now, the guitar parts still remain engrossing. Furious thrash licks and cold, bloody chimes of the black metal church—that's it, seriously.

Scott Hedrick and Nate Garnette have been able to write riffs that hook, remain memorable, and give Skeletonwitch its own style as ludicrous as it sounds, however. I don't know, maybe its the melodies or the balance between themes, but something within the guitar work brands this a 100% Skeletonwitch album, accept no substitutes. Nothing too fancy happens on the percussion side of things, but again, it's just a good time. There's no dependency on blast beats or extreme metal clichιs, just a balanced attack that colors up these anthems a bit and never obstructs the flow of the evil. In tradition of the others, "Serpents Unleashed" features short tracks that sizzle and burn for just a handful of minutes before subsiding, never overflowing with needless crap or additives. Skeletonwitch keeps it simple.

I've always found Skeletonwitch's vocalist a little lackluster, but then again, he's just providing adequate vocals over the instrumental onslaught. As I said, it's the insignificance of "Serpents Unleashed" that gives the album a flare of importance, and it stacks up nicely against Skeletonwitch's others. Very rarely is "Serpents Unleashed" found running into walls despite its cell being extremely tight, so to speak. The gentlemen of Skeletonwitch know exactly what they want to say musically, and it'll be a cold day in Hades when they become musically frustrated or confused. I'll throw in the towel the day Skeletonwitch starts writing progressive epics or multi-layered musical escapades that say a lot but do very little, that's my oath.

Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed


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