I've always unfairly associated Skeletonwitch with the popular retro-thrash metal movement that's been in effect for the last four or five years. That scene has had its bright moments — nobody can touch Municipal Waste's songwriting and dedication — but more often than not, it's a stale regurgitation of the '80s glory days. But I was wrong about Skeletonwitch: The Athens, Ohio, band's fourth album, Forever Abomination, is one of the best thrash albums in recent memory.
"Of Ash and Torment" is one of the nastier tracks on Forever Abomination, if mainly for its switchback momentum. And, while blackened thrash in spirit, the song's power-hungry rhythm section feels more like Iron Maiden. It's like I need to go steal a car and challenge Ryan Gosling's character from Drive to a street race — he with his morose electro-pop soundtrack (of which I'm a fan, don't get me wrong) and me with Skeletonwitch, pounding my right foot even harder into the pedal even as I round comically dangerous corners. It's that sudden gear shift from breakneck riffage and guitar-hero antics into the melodic bridge that feels so much like a blur of red stoplights searing by. Before you see the Buick crossing the intersection, you're already slamming on the brakes.