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"Forever Abomination" is the 4th studio album by American black metal band, Skeletonwitch. It was released in 2011 on Prosthetic Records and produced by Matt Hyde. The line-up for the album was Chance Garnette (vocals), Nate Garnette (guitar), Scott Hedrick (guitar), Evan Linger (bass) and Dustin Boltjes (drums).
To describe the sound of this album would be to take a bit of Cradle of Filth, throw in some Dimmu Borgir then add a splash of Slayer and stir. Not many people like the genre of black metal but Ohio natives Skeletonwitch are quite good at what they do. This is the follow-up to 2009's "Breathing the Fire" and it needed to be good to keep up with the high standards the band had set themselves. What do I think of the album? Read on to find out!
The album begins with "This Horrifying Force (the Desire to Kill)". It starts off acoustic before jumping in to the classic black metal sound of fast riffs, thunderous drums with relentless double bass, and dark vocals. This is a great start to the album, and it's important for any band to get the listener interested right from the off and keep them on the end of the line, as if to say "you're here now and may as well like it".
"Reduced to the Failure of Prayer" is a black metal song with death metal vocals, and sounds almost as if it was recorded at a different time in the band's career to the current album; something which can be said for most of the songs on here. The highlight of the song is a Slayer-esque solo at the end that I especially enjoy. There is a fine line between ripping off another band and paying homage, and I think this does the latter.
"Of Ash and Torment" once more changes the metal genre, and this time around we have speed metal. There's a lot of early Megadeth in the guitars, with just a hint of modern-day Arch Enemy or In Flames. It's not easy to combine different genres of metal, but Skeletonwitch have achieved this with ease on this song. This is definitely one of the better tracks on the album.
"Choke Upon Betrayal" has all the hallmarks of a classic black metal song. It's dark, moody and, above all, heavy. It's another short and sweet track but the main problem it has is, it leaves you wanting more of it when it's over. One of the best songs on the album, and I especially like the way Skeletonwitch has pushed the boundaries not only to the limit, but beyond them by a fair distance as well.
"Erased and Forgotten" is one of the fastest songs on the album. It's a heavy blend of furious drums and blackened vocals, which fits in nicely with the ever-changing heavy metal genres throughout the album. First off, the drums are simply amazing. I've heard some intense drummers over the years but Dustin Boltjes can stand up and take a bow here. The vocals back up the pace as well, mixing it up a bit to the point of where it's a delight to listen to.
With "The Infernal Resurrection" comes a change in pace, as it slows the album down a notch. Or that's what you think when it opens, before it changes tempo and hits the nail on the proverbial thrash metal head. This song is another one of my favourites off of the album, as thrash metal is my favourite of all metal genres. I'm not a big fan of starting slow and rising to fast but it works well on this song.
"Rejoice in Misery" is another of those death metal style songs, which gives the album yet another change in direction. There's a heavy mixture of many bands in there, and I feel it's heavily influenced by the likes of British grindcore band, Carcass, which is always good to hear. This probably won't be to everyone's taste but for those that like listening to heavy stuff and like it even heavier, you'll definitely approve of this song.
"Cleaver of Souls" is a face-melting track of very heavy proportions. This is the best song on the album for me, with its black metal style riffs and a very good solo which ends the track in spectacular fashion and brings the song down to a slow pace that might be often associated with a bridge or a pre-chorus. Again, the drums sound immense, and the band sounds like they are really enjoying themselves in the studio. I've yet to see Skeletonwitch live but I can imagine how good this would be on-stage.
"Shredding Sacred Flesh" jumps in without even being noticed after the above-mentioned solo, and I wish I could give it more credit, but it's just filler near the end of the album. It just doesn't really get going enough to merit recognition and is the weakest song in a very good line-up. I've never understood the need for filler songs and I feel like the listener is cheated a little. A lot of bands and artists do put filler tracks on their albums but why is anyone's guess in the days of music piracy.
"Sink Beneath Insanity" is another heavy song with death and black metal notes, and some of the best drumming on the album. Boltjes has clearly been Jazz trained with the double bass pedals beating to a frantic melody. I've always been a fan of the drums and it's the one instrument I listen out for. I always wonder how the drummer managed to kick the beat or how he did this or that roll. None of that is easy to figure out but I can say that it would take a very accomplished player to attempt to recreate what he does here.
On to the last song on the album with "My Skin of Deceit", and I can only describe it as Cradle of Filth meets Iron Maiden. There's some very fast and heavy guitar playing, but it's in the Iron Maiden mould. It's the shortest song on the album, but it feels like it lasts an eternity because it's such a joy to listen to. If only it wasn't for that solo on "Cleaver of Souls", then this would no doubt be my favourite song off the album.
In summary, if you want an easy listening album for a Sunday afternoon, you won't want to buy "Forever Abomination". But if you want an album with so much diversity that it overloads your brain, this is the album for you. It's loud, it's aggressive and it's a lot of fun. It also brings out the best of these musicians and is definitely their defining album.
1. This Horrifying Force (the Desire to Kill)
2. Reduced to the Failure of Prayer
3. Of Ash and Torment
4. Choke Upon Betrayal
5. Erased and Forgotten
6. The Infernal Resurrection
7. Rejoice in Misery
8. Cleaver of Souls
9. Shredding Sacred Flesh
10. Sink Beneath Insanity
11. My Skin of Deceit
My rating: 7/10