Skeletonwitch – “Fen Of Shadows”

Athens, Ohio metalheads Skeletonwitch have been slugging away for well over a decade, touring hard and playing harder. Back when I was an undergrad at Ohio University, the original incarnation of the band played frequently at The Union, the local skuzzy rock ‘n’ roll bar. They were local heroes. Even if metal wasn’t really your scene — and as a dude who spent most of college clumsily ripping off Pavement and the Dismemberment Plan, I have to admit it wasn’t really mine — it was hard not to be proud of the insane blitzkrieg these guys created.

Nowadays that sort of small-scale adulation seems quaint. Skeletonwitch have traveled the world several times over and won themselves a passionate global fan base. That bar they used to play all the time, The Union, has changed a lot since then — renovated, burned down, and rebuilt in the dozen years since I left Athens. Skeletonwitch have changed quite a bit too, swapping in new band members and evolving their sound, but to me they’ve never sounded better than they do right now.

Today they’re back with news of their first full-length album in five years, Devouring Radiant Light. At the microphone is Adam Clemans, the new singer they introduced on 2016’s The Apothic Gloom EP. Behind the boards is none other than Converge’s Kurt Ballou. Handling the mix is famed Swedish death metal producer Frederik Nordstrom. Together they’ve pushed the traditionally riff-heavy band deeper into melodic black metal without losing the violent sense of forward motion that propelled their earlier work. You can hear that sound in all its splendor on “Fen Of Shadows,” the album’s spectacular eight-minute lead single, available below for your pleasure. Do it.

Devouring Radiant Light is out 7/20 on Prosthetic. Pre-order it here.