Skeletonwitch, a fixture in the modern metal scene for many years, release their first new material since they parted ways with longtime lead singer Chance Garnette. The Apothic Gloom debuts frontman Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer, ex-Iron Thrones) as the band’s new voice.
His live presence is excellent and energetic and one that long time fans of the band can get behind. Touring with bands like High On Fire, Tribulation and Abbath it can be tough to stand out, but the new material holds its own very well.
Four new songs are debuted here and the middle two sound especially like vintage Skeletonwitch. “Well of Despair” is chock full of Nate Garnette and Scott Hedrick’s vicious riffs, the bedrock and staple of Skeletonwitch’s calculated attack.
“Black Waters” starts a little slower and builds with Clemans’ vocals and Dustin Boltjes excellent work behind the battery. The band sounds especially tight and this EP gets better on repeated listens. Each riff is more fully fleshed out. While Skeletonwitch have never released any material that is bad, if I were to describe The Apothic Gloom in one word I would say it sounds “fresh.”
The approach here for the band, especially on the title track, is a bit more mature than the band’s more recent material. It gallops along and tones down some of the fast and furious riffs, perhaps to showcase the newest edition before thrusting him headfirst into the melodic assault that the band is most famous for.
As a fan since Beyond The Permafrost, it is great to see the band continue to not only release quality material on a regular basis, but also to do so amid turmoil. Kudos to this Ohio crew and their thrash leanings that help their state “swing.” Fans new and old will enjoy The Apothic Gloom as the band moves in a new direction, hopefully for the better.
(released August 19, 2016 on Prosthetic Records)