Skeletonwitch-The Apothic Gloom (2016)
- The Apothic Gloom
- Well of Despair
- Black Waters
- Red Dead, White Light
With the announcement that Chance Garnette had left Skeletonwitch, I know for a fact that myself, and plenty of other Skeletonwitch fans were not going to be too happy. Garnette had been there since the very beginning, and we all thought that he was going to be here to stay. At least, I thought so. Since 2003, Skeletonwitch has yet to release anything that I had ever considered a bad record. Well, it was partially his fault that he is out of the band, and partially the band. Mainly Chance’s fault though. He claimed that he was fired from Skeletonwitch because of his “drinking problem”. Its not as much the band’s “fault” as it is their decision.
Anyway, we have the why out of the way. This brings up the question of “who is the best suitor?” In my personal opinion, I figured that it was a good idea for the band to just call it quits. It was very hard for me to see Skeletonwitch with anyone who isn’t Chance Garnette. Plus, Serpents Unleashed would have been a fantastic place to end the legacy. I didn’t think that there was a good replacement, until I gave them a chance. I skipped the single Red Death, White Light because I was still very skeptical at the time, not caring much for this new guy, Adam Clemans. I didn’t think he had the music history under his belt, I had just assumed the he was a nobody.
I found out that Skeletonwitch was coming to my city and playing with some local acts that I’ve been dying to check out. I got the ticket off of my friend for $5, so I figured, might as well go. As a lifelong Skeletonwitch fan, I figured that even if the new guy is bad, I could still enjoy the band. Let me tell you this: if you get the chance to see them live, you need to do it. Adam Clemans has it all; the vocal ability, the charisma, the stage presence, and he has every song nailed down to a tee. He brings a lot more of a black metal sound to it, with more of a raspy vocal style as opposed to Chance’s almost squealing sounding highs. It was apparent to me from the first song why they had picked Adam Clemans, and I had high hopes for the new album. Of course, I picked it up.
The Apothic Gloom is only four tracks long, which is a fantastic strategy. It is almost as if they are testing the waters out. It’s almost a way of seeing how people will react to Adam Clemans on a record, and honestly, I have to say, that this is probably one of their best pieces of music I have heard from them. Out of the four, they almost split the tracks in terms of genre. The title track is a lot more black metal sounding, Well of Despair and Black Water sounds a lot more like their older, thrashier material, and Red Death, White Light is clearly one of the blackest songs off the EP. That being said, in each song there is at least one black metal inspired riff.
The Apothic Glooms opens with an acoustic sounding opening that would give This Horrifying Force the chills, and transitions into a rather slow (but faster than the opening) set of riffs that would fit well into a black metal album. I can tell you right now that the riffs used in that section after the initial opening will get stuck in your head. Then the track goes into traditional Skeletonwitch thrash, while still adding a black metal sound. A lot of Skeletonwitch’s thrashier songs are shorter in length, such as how on Beyond the Permafrost there is no song longer than four minutes. That being said, the two black metal sounding songs are between five minutes and seven minutes in length, while the other two are between three and four minutes.
Something that stands out all over this EP for me is the bass lines. They aren’t hidden like with a lot of bands these days. They take Evan Linger’s bass abilities and they showcase it without shoving it in your face. The riffs are powerful, and the drum tracking is as insane as any other Skeletonwitch album. I don’t even feel the need to talk about Dustin Boltjes’ drumming talents. They speak for themselves throughout the entirety of this album. He plays hard, and crushes it. Now, Nathan Garnette and Scott Hedrick both correlate together so well, their dual leads and riffs fuse so well together that they are probably one of the best combinations behind the guitar, currently. The guitar work for the thrashier parts during Black Waters are easily something for the history books, and should not be missed.
As for Adam Clemans, I realised that I had been listening to him for a while without knowing it. I’m a pretty big Wolvenhammer fan, which he fronted for a few albums, as well as fronting easily the best Veil of Maya album. I shouldn’t have questioned his experience, because he easily knows what he is doing behind that microphone. As for how he sounds as part of Skeletonwitch, all I can say is that you need to pick up a copy and hear for yourself. He kills it. I don’t even recommend downloading it, because this EP is worth the buy. I can promise that you will not be disappointed with this collection of songs. Or at least I am 99% sure that you won’t be. This record is just fantastic, with the entire band coming together to create a modern masterpiece. This is a whole new chapter in the same book, and it couldn’t get any better.
Before closing this review up, I want to talk about the packaging. Usually I would judge a book, or in this case an album, by it’s cover. The Apothic Gloom has artwork that would fall flat compared to the band’s depictions of horrific skeleton creatures on past albums, due to the fact that is not that at all. It has something that gives off a very blackened feel, which I can actually enjoy. The backing is just plain white, with the track listing. I suppose this makes sense, being a new era for Skeletonwitch. I would say that breaking apart from this is okay if they did it correctly, which they did. It is almost like how Obscura has been using the same sort of scheme for their albums. If Obscura were to change that, I would almost expect a significant change in sound, but Obscura is something to talk about another time.
Skeletonwitch’s The Apothic Gloom gets a “buy it” rating. Throughout my reviews, I will be giving albums a “buy it, stream it or skip it” rating, and The Apothic Gloom is easily a buy it from me.
by Austyn Allen-Taylor
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