1000 Albums Project


Devouring Radiant Light, by Skeletonwitch
Suggested by Noli-Rose Nikitaki

We’ve got a problem with our guttering.

It’s nothing too serious. There’s something loose, and there’s some split piping, and there may be an internal leak somewhere on our property as the drainpipe always has a tiny yet incessant trickle.

Hopefully, someone’s coming round to fix it tomorrow afternoon.

Not a guttering expert, mind. Instead, we’ve hired a zookeeper.

Is it a zookeeper with some guttering knowledge? I doubt it, but that’d be a fortuitous coincidence if so. We’re simply of the belief that there’s no real need to employs someone with actual skill or talent in the appropriate field. Someone completely random, with no knowledge or aptitude for the job requirements, will serve just as well.

Skeletonwitch are an American Death Metal band, consisting of four core members. There’s a bassist, a lead guitarist, a rhythm guitarist, and a zookeeper. No need for a singer. Just a random bloke who can growl will suffice.

I have to find a way to judge these albums without fixating on The Growl. It’s not good for my nerves if I don’t. So, let’s look at the music without reference to the vocals, and see where I’m at for a score near the end.

Musically, Devouring Radiant Light is Melodic Death that’s heavy on the Melodic and light on the Death. The genre’s signature auto-fire drums are there, as are the speeding guitars and punchy bass, but happily there’s a natural summit to the twiddlings and speed-fapping. It’s almost old school thrash in places, with the tiniest nod to the more absurd and progressive flourishes that Death Metal can demand. Structurally, the songs are coherent and well crafted, without an overpowering busyness that can plague the more technical protagonists out there.

I think Skeletonwitch strike the gong in the perfect spot to resonate with me. Their playing seems fuelled by a genuine love of the music being created, and the players seem to be thrashing out and hitting their true pinnacle of individual skill. This sounds like a slight on them, as a musician doesn’t want to be told that their output is limited by the extremes of their talent, but I mean it as a pure complement. A great deal of technical metal concentrates on the sheer skill of technique, and the feel and passion is damned as the musicians sound bored, as if what they are playing is beneath them. Not so with Skeletonwitch. Their songs sound vibrant and exciting, as if the band is proudly showing you all they can do.

My recommendation is the title track, Devouring Radiant Light, which brings us some exquisite melodic guitar that leads into a fine rock0thrash number. And for sheer tempo, you can’t go wrong with When Paradise Fades, or the album’s storming closer Sacred Soil.

With one change in creative direction and one slight lineup alteration, Skeletonwitch would be hitting an 8/10 review. But, alas, they employed a zookeeper instead of a singer, so I can’t go above 5/10. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the vocalist is getting the side-eye from Anne Robinson the minute he opens his mouth.

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