At One With The Shadows
posted on 10/2004 By:
At One With the Shadows is the debut release from the Athens, Ohio outfit Skeletonwitch. Ohio—not exactly considered a hotbed for metal, but although they come from right in the middle of the map, their influences are all over it. At their core, Skeletonwitch are an old school band, playing mid 80’s thrash with a heavy mix of early 80’s metal. But they do this through a lens of more contemporary metal by incorporating melodic death and black metal vocals. The end result is a full on metal assault that pays homage to some of the forefathers, but adds enough modern elements to avoid sounding dated.
At One With the Shadows is a nine track attack assault that charges out of the gate and barely lets up the pace or intensity. A couple tracks have acoustic outros or interludes, but for the most part the tempo is relatively fast, and the songs are unmistakenly metal. The retro feel is one of the more endearing aspects of the album. The lack of effects pedals and downtuning makes the Iron Maiden style leads and galloping thrash riffs seem more authentic. Not only are they authentic, they are in large supply. Each song is packed with a good variety of riffs and leads, and while there aren’t mindbendingly complex transitions or epic songs, each track has enough turns in direction to prevent boredom and provide at least a couple cool parts in even the weaker tracks.
As I said, it’s not a totally retro sound. There are some prominent melodeath stylings, and the guitar work on songs like “Every Rotten Corpse Shall Burn” and “Baptized in Flame” reveals a strong appreciation for Amon Amarth. The other contemporary aspect is the vocals, which usually consist of a hoarse black metal scream, although a guttural death growl is thrown in occasionally. It’s a bit of a risk using one of the more polarizing vocals styles to accompany what is, for the most part, an almost universally accepted style of guitar work. The vocals aren’t necessarily bad, and contribute to the band’s identity, but by the end of the album tend to get pretty grating. If the band sticks with this vocal style, it would be nice to see a bit more variety.
Unfortunately, the production of At One With the Shadows is fairly weak. In particular, the bass and drums are buried pretty deep. Remember though, this is a home made project, so some latitude should be given, and the sound isn’t bad enough to totally turn off most listeners. Still, it will be important to improve next time around. This band strikes me as one that will tear shit up in a live setting, and their site says they will be planning some touring. Check them out if you can. As for me, I’m just a state away, so I may be able to easily find out for myself.
At One With the Shadows is a promising debut. Nothing new, but it’s heavy, retro, and a lot of fun. Given some more time and practice, and improved recording, these guys could produce some quality stuff. I’ll be watching for their next effort.
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