REVIEW: Skeletonwitch “Serpents Unleashed”/Brooklyn Brewery Fire and Ice

THE RECORD: Skeletonwitch Serpents Unleashed Prosthetic Records 2013

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Skeletonwitch hasn’t needed to do much to become one of my favorite bands. Constantly touring and releasing new records, they’re always working hard and just seem to show up all the time with new stuff. Their latest album, Serpents Unleashed is out now on Prosthetic Records and continues their trend of putting out fantastic albums of thrash metal gold.

Serpents Unleashed is unrelenting from the beginning. They don’t start slow and elevate to a high level, they start off at the top from the beginning and don’t stop until the record is over. I think a lot of the energy on this one has to do with the aid of producer Kurt Ballou of Converge. The sound shows that he works really well with the band to maintain their sound and clean it up a bit. Polished? Maybe. Just so the guitar riffs are crystal clear to the ear though.

The guitar riffs are so amazing on this record. Check out “Blade On The Flesh, Blood On My Hands”, and “Burned From Bone”. So face-melting, and actually pretty catchy too. The mix is perfect in the way that it allows these to stand out.

I think that’s what’s awesome about Skeletonwitch. They put out great records that sound professional, but you know you can still see them and thrash the hell out at their live shows.

Okay, I guess it slows down a LITTLE on “More Cruel Than Weak”, the last track. It’s just so you can give your head a break from banging it though, and it brings you back to speed pretty quick.

I would be remiss not to name drop one more time- Baroness’ John Dyer Baizley, who did the stunning artwork for the cover. There aren’t really any bands that Baizley has done the art for that I don’t enjoy (that includes Flight Of The Conchords!). Serpents Unleashed is just another excellent piece from his portfolio.

The band itself doesn’t quit either. It seems like they are always touring, but the great thing about the ‘witch is that they mix it up with the bands they play with. I’ve seen them three times; with Kvelertak (ON A BOAT!), with Havok, and with Ghost. All those bands are pretty different from each other, but the crowd always loved them because they put on such a great show. I’m looking forward to catching them on tour in Spring 2014 with Amon Amarth!

THE BEER: Fire And Ice- Brooklyn Brewery- Brooklyn, NY

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The brewmaster’s reserve collection is hit or miss to me; I loved There Will Be Black, but Fiat Lux was just so so. Maybe they just need to give all their beers brutal, metal-sounding names and I’ll like them. Case in point, Fire and Ice. It’s a deliciously smoky porter. I often shoot for the sweeter side of the porter and stout spectrum, but sometimes a crisp, dry porter just hits the spot. Fire and Ice knocks it out of the park. Don’t be mislead by the style it says on the label of oatmeal porter. The ingredients do include rolled oats, but everything else, like the hop profile (Fuggle, Willamette, and East Kent Golding) makes this brew deliciously smoky with a touch of bitterness. At 7.2% ABV it’s right in the middle of the scale, which is nice to see in a sea of so many super-strong stouts and porters this time of year.

THE PAIRING:

I always feel inclined to pair metal albums with pretty dank beers. When you’re rocking out to an intense, heavy record, you need a beer of equal caliber to go along with it.


The description on the Brooklyn Brewery website sounds like it could fit in a Skeletonwitch song too:

When the world gives you darkness and Ice
We put a Fire into your glass and give you warmth and light

While the beer isn’t that accessible in stores and bars since it’s from the brewmaster’s reserve series, it’s super accessible, easy to drink, on the palate. Yes, it’s intense and big, but it’s surprisingly drinkable. Much like Skeletonwitch- their sound is in your face, but they are a blast to see live and so much fun to listen to.

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