Review: Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom

Formed in 2003, Athens, Ohio band Skeletonwitch has been at the very forefront of the new millennium thrash revival. Having honed their blackened thrash attack with each subsequent release through five albums and two EPs, they seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut.

But all of that was nearly derailed in 2014 when founding singer Chance Garnette was charged with assault and battery on a family/household member. Skeletonwitch finished out their touring commitments in Europe with the assistance of former Cannabis Corpse vocalist Andy Horn.  A few months later Garnette confirmed that he had, in fact, been fired from the band due to his alcohol abuse

The loss of Garnett’s very unique vocal style could have spelled the end of Skeletonwitch. Fortunately, the band was able to find a replacement that they felt suitable for the job in Adam Clemans who had formerly served stints as the frontman of Wolvhammer and Veil of Maya.

Now, after a year of regrouping and working on new material Skeletonwitch are back with the release of a four song EP entitled The Apothic Gloom, which is out now via the Prosthetic Records label. So how does Clemans stack up in his first recorded outing with the band? In a word, adequately.

I’d be lying to you if I told you that it didn’t feel like Skeletonwitch had lost some of their uniqueness in the loss of Garnett, but this is not to take away from Clemans very strong vocals, which fit the band just fine. As for the band themselves, the music and performances are as fierce and razor-sharp as ever.

The Apothic Gloom kicks off with the title track, which builds from a dirge-like acoustic guitar intro into some majestic riffing and eventually explodes into a full-on thrasher.

Up next is ‘Well of Despair,’ a much more characteristic Skeletonwitch song. The song starts out a break-neck pace and never lets up. This track features from seriously tasty riffing from guitarists Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette (Chance’s brother… wonder what holidays are like at the Garnette house nowadays?) and Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick.

The penultimate track is titled ‘Black Waters.’ This song is the shortest on the EP but wastes no time in ripping the listener’s head off with tight, powerhouse performances from all involved including Clemans.

Clocking in at over seven minutes in length, closing track ‘Red Death, White Light’ can only be described as epic. This modern thrash masterpiece leaves the listener wanting more.

In fact, if there is any criticism to be leveled at The Apothic Gloom it is that the EP’s 21 minute run time seems to blow by before the listener even knows what has hit them. Overall though, it is an excellent introduction to the new frontman and a very encouraging omen for the future of Skeletonwitch. 9/10

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