Beyond The Permafrost – Ripping Thrash! – 95%
Having been a listener, fan, devotee, and follower of thrash metal since 1985 I have many opinions of bands and the albums they have released. And, like so many fellow thrashers, I have gone many years listening to albums recorded many years prior and wondering if there would ever be any more great thrash releases. Well, with Beyond The Permafrost I have found what is, in my humble opinion, the best thrash album to be released in the last god-knows-how-long.
Each track on this album is a throwback to the days when thrash albums held something exciting for the listener – fast, energetic, aggressive and heavy. These guys are like a breath of fresh air in an already revived scene. Forget the plethora of long-established bands that are desperately trying to keep a foothold in metal but can’t seem to avoid boring groove-orientated ‘nu-thrash’, this rips them apart. Slayer have been my favourite band since 1985 but stick this album up against Christ Illusion and you can see where the future lies. The UK’s Evile are the closest thing to Skeletonwitch, if not in style but in their passion.
This isn’t death metal or black metal although there are definitely hints of those genres here (Dismember, for sure, is a band that Skeletonwitch sound a bit like and this is because of the obvious influences of the NWOBHM in Skeletonwitch’s music, and Witchery is another band that comes to mind; listen to track 6, Limb From Limb- black metal influences; listen to track 7, Cast Into The Open Sea – NWOBHM influences) but no, this is Bay Area-inspired thrash with maybe a little Sodom, Pestilence and early Destruction thrown in.
The production is in most respects very good. Rarely nowadays do thrash albums come out sounding like Beyond The Gates, but a major gripe I have, and one that costs this album 2.5% is the fact that Chance Garnette’s excellent vocals are so low down in the mix. Was he there at the mixing sessions? His vocals would have made this album ten times heavier had they been higher in the mix.
The guitars are a joy to hear. The twin guitars give a feeling of a live recording. There are tracks where the rhythm guitars seem to be doing totally different things, and indeed they are, but it all ends up coming together in a blaze of heaviness and melody, and that is a key thing on this album – melody.
Stick on track 3 – Baptized In Flames. I cannot stop listening to this track. It brings tears to my eyes with the pure emotion. As the twin guitars and double bass drums emerge and erupt into a beautifully melancholy piece of thrash the only band I can think of that has given me this feeling of real emotion in their music is Carnivore on their first album. Think Thermonuclear Warrior or World Wars III & IV.
The only other aspect of the album which cost it points for me is the drum sound. It is weak. The drumming is good, don’t get me wrong, but Derrick Nau should have had a heavier drum sound rather than this. That cost another 2.5% but everything else – the speed, the tightness, the beautifully melodic but fast as fuck solos – everything else makes this a must have album for anyone who wants it fast and furious, just like the old days.