(Prosthetic Records, 2013)
#FOR FANS OF: Old-School Thrash Metal, Witchery
More than just a rudimentary retro-thrash band, Ohio’s blackened thrashers Skeletonwitch have been providing this explosive mixture of these two styles from the get-go, and their stellar fifth offering, 'Serpents Unleashed', shows the band is as fired up and on top of things as ever. Rife with explosive thrash riffs against pummeling drumming and coarse, raspy black metal shrieks,, the mixture works exceptionally well with this rapid-fire assault and speed-drenched barnburners, clocking in a lot more in a half-hour than most bands would fit over the course of several albums. Immediately the guitar tandem of Scott Hedrick and Nate Garnette begin pouring on the steam with a vicious volley of traditional thrash riffs with the occasional touch of technicality or melody, depending on the nature of the song in question’s needs at that point but more often than not just slash their way throughout the album and managing to crank out fully-fledged tracks like the opening title track, "I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)", "Burned from Bone" and "Unending, Everliving" that just seem like relentless battering rams against the senses. When they know when to drop in a healthy dose of black metal melody like "Unwept" or spread out the pattern with some mid-range riffs and an extended intro like "More Cruel than Weak", it’s obvious there’s not a lot of messing around with the guitars here and it shows this quickly. Even vocalist Chance Garnette gets plenty of time to shine here, providing a series of legible, hoarse rasps that sound more at home on a typical black metal release and provides a key cog for the band to remain an individual in this sea of thrash bands. While it does get repetitive since it seems the band really only knows one direction which makes the songs sound somewhat similar in the second half, there’s plenty to enjoy and love with this release and fans should be incredibly thrilled with it.