In 2003, when American teenagers were raiding the makeup sections of their local Halloween shops to paint up like their favorite black metal bands… there was Skeletonwitch.
In 2005, when every burnout who sold enough weed bought an Orange amp and tuned their guitar down to “C”… there was Skeletonwitch.
In 2007, when kids with pricey haircuts and freshly inked full-sleeves learned two At The Gates riffs and simplified them with breakdowns… there was Skeletonwitch.
In 2010, when sweep-picking Guitar Center employees decided to eschew songwriting and showcase their “chops” in soulless robotic fashion… there was Skeletonwitch.
Today, in a landscape that finds them surrounded by a) bands begging their own fans for money, b) vest-wearing, by-the-numbers “retro” rock nostalgia and c) heavy labels blindly signing bands based on breast implants… there, still, is Skeletonwitch, a band that has successfully carved its own left-hand path with an unwavering quality of metal and old-fashioned hard work. This organic approach has garnered legions of fans and an undeniable level of respect in the worldwide metal community from both sides of the stage.
As SKELETONWITCH celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, it’s fitting to reflect on some notable numbers from the band’s first decade of destruction:
4: Number of full-length releases (with #5 due on Oct. 29)
2: Number of those full-lengths to crack the Billboard Top 200
1 each: Number of times they’ve appeared on the covers of Decibel and Terrorizer magazines
7: European tours including performances at the metal’s largest and most respected festivals such as Wacken, Summer Breeze, Graspop, Tuska, Bloodstock and more
500,000+: Number of miles the band has traveled across North America
0: Number of those miles driven by someone other than guitarist Nate Garnette
Countless: cans of beer consumed, high fives given and good times had
* * *
Since signing with Prosthetic seven years ago, a new SKELETONWITCH album has materialized like clockwork every other October. First, there was the group’s sophomore breakthrough, “Beyond The Permafrost.” Produced by late GWAR guitarist Cory Smoot and featuring iconic artwork by John Baizley (Baroness, Kylesa, Kvelertak), the album – and subsequent tours with the likes of Danzig, Dimmu Borgir and Amon Amarth – told the world what the rest of Ohio already knew: that SKELETONWITCH was a metal force to be reckoned with. That album’s “Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery” would eventually be featured in the video game “Brutal Legend,” placing the band in excellent company with digitized versions of Rob Halford, Ozzy and Lemmy.
Then came 2009′s “Breathing The Fire,” produced by the legendary Jack Endino (Nirvana, High On Fire, 3 Inches of Blood). Supported by tours with Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom and Ozzfest, the album – the band’s first featuring bassist Evan Linger, and also their first to crack the Billboard Top 200 – caught the attention of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, who invited the group to film a zombie-themed video for the song “Bringers of Death” that the band members still haven’t stopped hearing about.
In 2011, “Forever Abomination” – produced by Grammy-winner Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones) – saw the arrival of drummer Dustin Boltjes (ex-Demiricous), as well as a return visit to the Billboard Top 200. On the road, the group toured alongside Arch Enemy, Kvelertak, The Black Dahlia Murder and Nile before embarking on their most ambitious trek to date: a 63-shows-in-65-days test of endurance that they passed with flying colors.
2013 brings us to “Serpents Unleashed,” the group’s fifth and latest release. Recorded with Kurt Ballou (Converge, High On Fire, Isis) in Salem, Mass. (insert bad “witch” joke here), the album – which features artwork by Baizley, who returns to the fold for the first time in six years – is another blistering helping of two-and-a-half minute blasts of blackened metal amalgamation. This time around, the band also shows off a few new tricks – note the Scandinavian doom-vibe in the opening of “Unending, Everliving” and the devil’s swing of “This Evil Embrace” – but does so without compromising the frosty/fiery/abominable metal spirit or blue-collar humility that has endeared them to so many over the past decade. Ultimately, it’s both a fitting testament to what they’ve accomplished to date, and an exciting nod toward what the future has in store.
As for that future, in 2020, when pedal-steel rasta-metal will be all the rage, there will be SKELETONWITCH, still doing what they – and, most importantly, their fans – love, trends be damned.
SKELETONWITCH have transcended genre boundaries over the past decade with their trademark mixture of blackened thrash, death and heavy metal. It should therefore come as no surprise that their new EP, “The Apothic Gloom” (due Aug. 19), features some of their catchiest riffs and most pummeling rhythms to date, as well as more shredding than ever before. [...]
SKELETONWITCH will be bringing “their brand of unrelenting speed metal” and “kinetic exuberance” (Cryptic Rock) to fans across the border as they announce their headlining “No Sleep ‘Til Vancouver” tour this August. Kicking off on August 2 in Boston, Mass., the extreme metal quintet will complete an extensive run across Canada with select local support before cruising back [...]
As Ohio-formed blackened heavy thrashers’ SKELETONWITCH begin their month long trek on the Decibel Magazine tour alongside Abbath, High on Fire and Tribulation, the quintet have announced they will be selling a limited amount of copies of the hand-screened, hand-numbered 7″ vinyl version of their newest single “Well of Despair” exclusively on all upcoming dates. Check out [...]
1. Upon Wings of Black
2. Beyond the Permafrost
3. Baptized in Flames
4. Sacrifice for the Slaughtergod
5. Vengeance Will be Mine
6. Limb from Limb
7. Fast Into the Open Sea
8. Fire from the Sky
9. Soul Trashing Black Sorcery
10. Remains of the Defeated
11. Feast Upon Flesh
12. Within My Blood
1. Submit to the Suffering
2. Longing for Domination
3. Where the Light has Failed
4. Released from the Catacombs
5. Stand Fight and Die
6. The Despoiler of Human Life
7. Crushed Beyond Dust
8. Blinding Black Rage
9. Gorge Upon My Soul
10. Repulsive Salvation
11. Strangled by Unseen Hands
12. ...And into the Flame
*Itunes Exclusive Bonus Track: No Rest for the Dead
1. Beyond The Permafrost
2. Fire From The Sky
3. Feast Upon Flesh
4. Forever In The Abyss
1.) This Horrifying Force (The Desire To Kill)
2.) Reduced To The Failure Of Prayer
3.) Of Ash And Torment
4.) Choke Upon Betrayal
5.) Erased And Forgotten
6.) The Infernal Resurrection
7.) Rejoice In Misery
8.) Cleaver Of Souls
9.) Shredding Sacred Flesh
10.) Sink Beneath Insanity
11.) My Skin Of Deceit
1. Serpents Unleashed 02:11
2. Beneath Dead Leaves 03:07
3. I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived) 02:47
4. From a Cloudless Sky 02:48
5. Burned From Bone 02:38
6. Unending, Everliving 03:03
7. Blade on the Flesh, Blood on My Hands 02:26
8. This Evil Embrace 03:39
9. Unwept 02:25
10. Born of the Light That Does Not Shine 02:18
11. More Cruel Than Weak 04:18