It would be one thing if only the band's logo and artwork on its new album reeked of vintage heavy metal and ripping thrash, but considering that the music on "Beyond the Permafrost" actually comes with a metal-as-hell attack makes it required listening for the true ‘heads. Beyond the fact that Athens, Ohio's SKELETONWITCH are high caliber players and speed through these songs like tattooed demons riding customized (read: skulls and flames galore) choppers, the quintet performs with the kind of beer-soaked, studded-wristband-wearing passion and conviction that would make any denim-and-leather wearin' heathen proud to be a head banger."Beyond the Permafrost" is a tightly played, thrashy as hell, and damn tuneful album. The disc combines classic thrash with a bit of melodic death and black metal, and a NWOBHM undercurrent, all of which is given a modern (though not glossy) production. An added twist are the scruffy and snarling (kind of like a CARCASS-y "Heartwork" era crossed with black metal) vocals of Chance Garrette. The guy strikes the balance between a truly sinister aura and good 'ole evil fun. Some death growls are smartly utilized as well. Aside from several songs that sport catchy (but not shiny/happy) choruses (the title track and "Baptized in Flames" are two that come immediately to mind), the riffs and solos cranked out by Nate "N8 Feet Under" Garnette and Scott "Scunty D". Hedrick are more than just "good", they fucking slay! Furious, speed-picked riffs, scorching solos, and loads of cool harmonizing make listening to these 12 relatively short (basically the three-minute range) tracks a hellish good time. Let me reiterate, the guitars on this sucker sound absolutely fantastic! Count "Beyond the Permafrost" as one of those albums that just feels right. Hell bent and upping the irons, SKELETONWITCH gets "it" right on every single one of these smoking tracks. I'll even go out on a limb by saying that from the standpoint of talent and urgency of approach, SKELETONWITCH reminds me a little of THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER when they first began their ascent. Crank this one really, really loud.
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