With 2018’s Devouring Radiant Light (“DRL”), Skeletonwitch have succeeded where
many bands have failed: they have reformulated their sound mid-career with
dizzyingly triumphant results. Since the band’s inception, they have been known for
blending and bending metal subgenres. Their collective love of Judas Priest,
classic-era Metallica and Immortal has always been worn on their sleeves. However,
it’s the band’s blacker leanings that have shifted to the forefront and altered the
tenor of the through line on this latest offering.

Grasping the blackened thread of “White Light” that first appeared on their 2016 EP,
The Apothic Gloom (the band’s first recording with vocalist Adam Clemans),
Skeletonwitch has emerged with the eight-song, searing, soaring, burning statement
of purpose. D RL demonstrates a band coalescing both compositionally and
conceptually. Three of the eight tracks on D RL hover near the seven minute mark
and a fourth nearly reaches nine minutes. D RL is a band cultivating new ambition.
While black metal has always been a recognizable component of the Skeletonwitch
sound, D RL sees the band leaning all the way in with epic results. Where
Skeletonwitch previously ran its output through a Second Wave Black Metal filter,
DRL incorporates a strong atmospheric influence. B ergtatt -era Ulver and Cascadian
black metal influences are on full display. From ethereal intros to tremolo sky-ride
leads, D RL is draped with and adorned in black metal’s lexicon. But the expansion of
influence does not stop there.

Nathan Garnette and Scott Hedrick are still co-captaining the dual-guitar
stratospheric charge but they’ve dramatically expanded their palette. Celestial
crunch that evokes post-metal pioneers, Isis? Check. Gothic doom passages à la
Paradise Lost? Check. High-flying Åkerfeldt-ian solos slingshotting over mountains of
undulating progressive rhythms? Check. The foundation for this sonic structure is the
effortless bass work of Evan Linger who possesses some of the strongest 4-string
chops of any player in heavy music. Providing requisite room for the guitar
maelstrom, Linger arrives with dazzling yet tasteful runs in just the right places.
And then there’s vocalist Adam Clemans. Equal parts Tompa Lindberg fury and Jacob
Bannon punk rage, Clemans’ creative intensity and sense of purpose fueled the
band’s new musical trajectory. His organic writing lends the band gravitas and his
vocal performance is nothing short of heroic.

Like the previous full-length, this album, the band’s first full-length in five years, was
recorded by Converge guitarist and engineering deity Kurt Ballou (High on Fire,
Kvelertak, Chelsea Wolfe) at GodCity Studio in Salem, Massachusetts. The band’s
rapport with Ballou provided the familiarity necessary to embrace uncharted creative
territory. Melodeath genre architect Fredrik Nordström (Opeth, At the Gates) mixed
the album at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden. The record was mastered by
Brad Boatright of metallic hardcore greats From Ashes Rise at Audiosiege Engineering
in Portland, Oregon.

“Sky-wide streaks of atmospheric black metal, neon electric leads, and folds of
compositional derring-do counter their primeval wallop, its blunt force whittled into
svelter forms.”
- Pitchfork

“Skeletonwitch is having its Master of Puppets and At the Heart of Winter moments
simultaneously, and it is, if the band will forgive the superlative, absolutely
motherfucking divine[.]”
- Decibel Magazine

Soft Kill



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