Note: $22.00 is the day of show price.
With 2018’s Devouring Radiant Light (DRL), Skeletonwitch have succeeded where many bands have failed: they have reformulated their sound mid-career with dizzyingly triumphant results. Since the band’s inception, they have been known for blending and bending metal subgenres. Their collective love of Judas Priest, classic-era Metallica and Immortal has always been worn on their sleeves. However, it’s the band’s blacker leanings that have shifted to the forefront and altered the tenor of the through line on this latest offering.
Grasping the blackened thread of “White Light” that first appeared on their 2016 EP, The Apothic Gloom (the band’s first recording with vocalist Adam Clemans), Skeletonwitch has emerged with the eight-song, searing, soaring, burning statement of purpose. DRLdemonstrates a band coalescing both compositionally and conceptually. Three of the eight tracks on DRL hover near the seven minute mark and a fourth nearly reaches nine minutes. DRL is a band cultivating new ambition.
While black metal has always been a recognizable component of the Skeletonwitch sound, DRL sees the band leaning all the way in with epic results. Where Skeletonwitch previously ran its output through a Second Wave Black Metal filter, DRL incorporates a strong atmospheric influence. Bergtatt-era Ulver and Cascadian black metal influences are on full display. From ethereal intros to tremolo sky-ride leads, DRL is draped with and adorned in black metal’s lexicon. But the expansion of influence does not stop there.
Nathan Garnette and Scott Hedrick are still co-captaining the dual-guitar stratospheric charge but they’ve dramatically expanded their palette. Celestial crunch that evokes post-metal pioneers, Isis? Check. Gothic doom passages à la Paradise Lost? Check. High-flying Åkerfeldt-ian solos slingshotting over mountains of undulating progressive rhythms? Check. The foundation for this sonic structure is the effortless bass work of Evan Linger who possesses some of the strongest 4-string chops of any player in heavy music. Providing requisite room for the guitar maelstrom, Linger arrives with dazzling yet tasteful runs in just the right places.
And then there’s vocalist Adam Clemans. Equal parts Tompa Lindberg fury and Jacob Bannon punk rage, Clemans’ creative intensity and sense of purpose fueled the band’s new musical trajectory. His organic writing lends the band gravitas and his vocal performance is nothing short of heroic.
Like the previous full-length, this album, the band’s first full-length in five years, was recorded by Converge guitarist and engineering deity Kurt Ballou (High on Fire, Kvelertak, Chelsea Wolfe) at GodCity Studio in Salem, Massachusetts. The band’s rapport with Ballou provided the familiarity necessary to embrace uncharted creative territory. Melodeath genre architect Fredrik Nordström (Opeth, At the Gates) mixed the album at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden. The record was mastered by Brad Boatright of metallic hardcore greats From Ashes Rise at Audiosiege Engineering in Portland, Oregon.
Portland, Oregon’s SOFT KILL ripped through 2016 with their first release on Profound Lore Records, Choke, the follow up to 2015’s Heresy, which became the band’s most acclaimed LP to date and saw the band on a constant touring cycle in support of it through North America and Europe as demand for the band was on a constant upswing. SOFT KILL returned with the triumphant follow up full-length Savior, released by Profound Lore on May 11, 2018, bringing their unique blend of gloom, laced with pop charm and flawless songwriting that transcends the post-punk genre.
Martyrdöd hailing from Sweden was formed back in 2001. While keeping true to the d-beat driven “Käng” crustpunk style they have managed to minister their unique melodious sound through six full length albums and countless live shows. In 2017 they signed with Century Media Records and will start working towards on a seventh album for release in early 2019. The three latest and highly praised albums Paranoia (2011), Elddop (2014), and List (2017) completed their previous label engagement with Southern Lord.
“I, II and III all focus on the subject of loss,” say WIEGEDOOD in a collective statement. “It’s inherently in our nature to desperately hold on to the people and the things we love. All three records are dedicated to Florent Pevée [from Kabul Golf Club], a close friend of Wim [Coppers] and a great musician who lost his life at 21. This is our way of honoring his life.”
As the final part of the De Doden Hebben Het Goed trilogy—which translates to English as The Dead Have It Good—WIEGEDOOD’s newest album, De Doden Hebben Het Goed III, is a natural extension of its predecessors. What the three albums share sonically—a violent yet epic brand of black metal—they also share thematically and physically. III blends the atmospherics of I and the aggression of II. The band says they’ve “found the perfect crossover.” WIEGEDOOD have also found a four-song formula that affords the trio latitude to explore without the wearisome effects of interminable concept album lengths. And finally, the albums also benefit from similar covers—photographed by Stefaan Temmerman—where nature and the WIEGEDOOD sigil play important parts of the whole.