Album Review: Skeletonwitch - Devouring Radiant Light

Artist: Skeletonwitch

Album: Devouring Radiant Light

Genre: Metal

Review by Steve Jenkins

There haven't been too many metal album this year that have captured my attention, to name a couple, Deafheaven and Amorphis, but it's the new Skeletonwitch album titled Devouring Radiant Light that caught me off guard. It's the sixth studio album from the American extreme metal band and they've taken a bit of a different approach with this release.

Being known for their blackened thrash metal style over the years, they have adapted and grown with the times. Their songwriting and instrumentation always being superb in sound and with the many dark layers to go along with it, they're a band that appeals to traditional thrash fans and those who like the more blackened metal style.

They've always had a vicious and in-your-face quality about them, and it's still here on this new album. But there's more variety on Devouring Radiant Light, with greater influences and different styles being heard in their songwriting. This new direction may or may not impress long time listeners of Skeletonwitch, but I for one embrace it. Gone are those 3 minute thrash bangers that you can go nuts to, instead what we get here is a more cold, darker, progressive approach, one might even say more obscure.

The album cover doesn't look like a thrash cover, it looks more like a atmospheric black metal album from some European band. The opening track "Fen Of Shadows" almost goes or 8 minutes, and what's probably most noticeable are the non-present vocals of Chance Garnette who was with the band for 12 years. Instead we get raw, raspy, rough black metal vocals from newcomer Adam Clemans, which give the band a whole new level of intensity. The guitars are stellar and the production is absolutely top-notch, so there's nothing lacking in the instrumental department.

If you were hearing this band for the very first time by listening to this album, you'd think they've been doing this style of metal forever, it's just that well executed. Despite the more imposing and thunderous atmosphere, there are still some really infectious, fun, headbanging moments for the listener with a series of hard-hitting, tighter riffs. As the shorter track still give us a hint of the old Skeletonwitch that we all know and love, but it really is the extended tracks with greater composition that truly makes this album a highlight.

This album will gain new followers for the band whilst still maintaining their core fan-base. I think this is the best Skeletonwitch have ever sounded, and the elements of thrash and extreme metal being used here really hits the nail on the head for me. Nobody should ignore this release, as it's a perfect example of evolution in metal done right.

8 out of 10.

Devouring Radiant Light is out now via Prosthetic Records.

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