A punishing extreme metal outfit based out of Athens, Ohio, Skeletonwitch employs an uncompromising blend of no-frills thrash and melodic death metal. Drawing the bulk of their inspiration from artists and musical styles born all of two decades earlier: namely the undying flame of classic Bay Area thrash; its creative bedrock in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal; and, to a lesser degree, death, black, and Viking metal, the band emerged in 2004 with the taut At One with the Shadows. A move to Prosthetic Records in 2007 signaled a shift from straight-up thrash to a less unhinged amalgam of speed, might, and darkness, an aesthetic that was most pronounced on the group’s sixth studio long-player, the black metal-forward Devouring Radiant Light.
The group was founded in 2003 around the talents of Chance Garnette (vocals), Nate Garnette (guitar), Scott “Scunty D” Hedrick (guitar), Eric Harris (bass), and Derrick Nau (drums). First introduced via 2004’s independently released At One with the Shadows album and 2006’s Worship the Witch EP, Skeletonwitch’s retro-fitted yet modernly executed creative vision arguably reached a new level of maturity with 2007’s Beyond the Permafrost full-length, their first for Prosthetic Records. After some hefty touring, Chance and Nate Garnette, Hedrick, Nau, and bassist Evan Linger headed into the studio to begin work on album number two. The resulting Breathing the Fire dropped in 2009 and debuted at number 151 on the Billboard 200 chart. Arriving in 2011, Forever Abomination was the first Skeletonwitch outing to feature new drummer Dustin Boltjes, and 2013’s critically acclaimed Serpents Unleashed — producer Kurt Ballou managed to successfully capture the group’s savage live sound — reached number 62 but would prove to be the last go-’round for vocalist Chance Garnette, who was fired in 2015 due to his substance abuse problems. The following year saw the band add Wolvhammer vocalist Adam Clemans to the roster and release a new EP, The Apothic Gloom, which leaned heavier on the Nordic and black metal end of the spectrum, due in large part to Clemans’ more militant vocal style. 2018’s full-length Devouring Radiant Light continued this approach by navigating a clear path between nuance and savagery.