Sound — 10
Bombastic, incinerating, amazing. Better than expected. I was actually somewhat disappointed when they first released the single "Well of Despair" because I couldn't stop thinking about how great it would sound with Chance Garnette. But I have now listened to this EP twice and I already think that the new guy's (Adam Clemans) vocals grew on me. And I think if people treat this like a nice thrash/black album by a new band they would give it a 10/10. I mean come on, melodic black thrash done right is one of the hardest genres to come by. But since it's Skeletonwitch, the fans just miss Chance.
And upon release of the first single "Well of Despair" some people said the new guy sounds like a generic metalcore vocalist but I think they should like him now since they have this whole EP to listen to so now we can absorb his raspy midrange shrieks and how they fit the music perfectly just like chance's did. And "Well of Despair" was actually one of the weaker tracks on the EP in my opinion (not a bad track but the whole EP is so awe-inspiring it takes a lot for one track to stand out). Skeletonwitch is one of the more creative, intelligent-sounding metal bands and I think they released an EP instead of an album to gauge fans' reactions without Chance but they already sold out of all their CD/shirt bundles. I think Chance may return but if not, it wouldn't be the end of the occult metal world. Skeletonwitch sounds better than ever and if you can't get over the vocalist change then at least you have Absu's new album to look forward to.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are similar to Chance's. Depressing, aggressive, occult. I personally prefer my thrash to have anti-establishment lyrics as well as the spiritual warfare themes but I understand that this is where the black influences come in and political lyrics just wouldn't fit the music. The lyrics are solid but there's room for improvement. The hooks could be more present. Chance's mastery was not in his lyrics but in his delivery. Clemans has avoided copying Chance but the vocals could use more wordplay such as assonance, internal rhyme schemes, anything that gives that mind-blowing flow (think the chorus to "Beyond the Permafrost." Clemans has his own style but I hope he eventually reaches the epitome of harsh catchiness that Chance showcased.
Overall Impression — 10
It's only a four song album and all songs shine in their own light. The only thing I think this album lacks is recycled material, redundancy, and drawn out filler. I think "Red Death, White Light" may be the strongest track because of the strong melodic passages and the sheer length without the track seeming repetitious or the progressions sounding forced. I have been streaming this album but I plan to buy a physical copy to support the band and add to my extreme metal collection. This is one of Skeletonwitch's strongest offerings to date and I can *takes deep breath* confidently say I am almost over missing Chance. I would be delighted by his return but Clemans has managed to amaze me. His passion is gripping and his vocals really do fit the music. Instrumentally speaking, this is EP contains the perfect mix of pounding yet sophisticated drums (more so than the previous efforts), melodic triumph, and defiant riffage.