Though some might perceive Skeletonwitch as merely another band being signed by a big label to cash in on thrash's current renewed popularity, one listen to the group's debut full-length, Beyond The Permafrost, has you realising that Skeletonwitch offers far more than warmed-over Exodus riffs. Instead, Ohio's finest incorporate death, elements of black and, yes, a whole lot of thrash to impressive effect, culminating in one of 2007's better records. By James Tape
"We never consciously said, 'We're going to be a thrash band,'" says guitar player Scott Hedrick. "We've got lots of death and black elements, and we hope people pick up on them."
"We have no specific goals for things like album sales or stuff like that," Hedrick continues. "We want to tour as much as possible and have people dig it and come out to our shows. We also want to get over to Europe and play for the crowds there. From what we've heard, they're really intense and they're pure metal fans. Europe seems to be more tied to classic and old school metal. We'd love to tour with Immortal. it would be amazing watching them night after night. We're first and foremost metal fans ourselves, so that would be amazing."
Thrash of yore took its lyrical inspiration from the political process, and black and death metal oftentimes find themselves dealing with the failings of religion. As Skeletonwitch is an amalgam of those genres, where does the group draw its lyrical motivation?
"We're in the van on our way to our next show, so let me ask the whole band that question," Hedrick says with a laugh. When Hedrick comes back to the phone, he answers without a moment's hesitation: "Mercyful Fate! (laughs) The unanimous response to your question is Mercyful Fate. The band is an escape from personal relationships and politics. We take the band extremely seriously, but it's also about having fun. We want to have a good time with music. We purposely stay away from things like politics. There are enough people out there saying they don't like the President. We're just five metal heads who love writing, playing and watching metal."
And what about that decidedly Scandinavian sounding title, Beyond The Permafrost? That's got to be part of the black metal aesthetic the band describes above. "Yeah, the title is in tune with our black metal side," Hedrick affirms. "Our vocalist came up with the title. We liked the name and people picked up on it. We also like that it doesn't lean too much one way or the other. It could be both black metal and death metal. It's foreboding and it really represents the band."
If you enjoyed this, read Hatesphere