Well, this is not what I was expecting to hear from Skeletonwitch. I confess that I’ve only ever really heard a small amount of the band’s prior material, and what I did hear was kind of a thrash/melodic metal affair, from what I recall. I approached this assuming they would sound much the same, (even though the very black metal album cover did give me pause), but this is a different beast than the band I remember.
So, essentially, if you take the thrash/melodic metal band that they used to be and give them a more mature, black metal coating, then you’ll have an idea of what Devouring radiant Light sounds like. The songs are longer, more involved, and well-thought-out. Apparently the band have always been Immortal fans, and you can hear that influence come through strongly on parts of this album.
They also have a new singer, from the mighty Wolvhammer, no less. Well, he puts in as acidic performance as you would expect, and the vocals on Devouring Radiant Light are above reproach.
The tracks feature a beguiling mix of infectious riffs, progressive expression, and atmospheric appeal. As well as the aforementioned Immortal influence, you can also hear Enslaved in some of the guitars, and there’s a slight Wolves in the Throne Room-esque Cascadian feel to some of the more atmospheric sections too. Skeletonwitch have not abandoned their thrash/melodic metal base though, and this is still part of their sound, with duelling guitar leads and storming solos still making appearances. Megadeth and Judas Priest are still influences here.
All of this, (as well as a small element of doom), is balanced and spread across the album in varying ratios, making for a very enjoyable and well rounded release. Although certainly not perfect, this is still a surprisingly impressive release. It describes a band in transition for sure; what will Skeletonwitch do next? I’m not sure, but I can’t wait to find out.
How many high-profile bands do you know that reinvent themselves, (especially as black metal bands), this far into their successful careers? Not many, which is one of the many reasons that this transition is so impressive.
Very highly recommended.