Skeletonwitch is an American melodic death metal band. A promising up-and-comer in the 2000s that took the scene by storm, they quickly made a name for themselves as a reliable, no-nonsense purveyor of melodic death, and while the loss of a key member in 2015 took some wind out of their sails, they are slowly but surely restoring themselves.
Formed in Athens, Ohio in 2003 by Chance Garnette (vocals), Nate Garnette, Scott Hedrick (guitars), Jimi Shestina (bass), and Derrick Nau (drums), they quickly built up a local live reputation and wasted no time in releasing At One with the Shadows, their full-length debut, in 2004. Shestina did not last past 2005, however, and he was replaced by Eric Harris. A demo was also released that year, and 2006 brought the Worship the Witch EP. A deal with Prosthetic Records was inked around that time, and they hit the road almost immediately after in 2007. Beyond the Permafrost, their major-label debut, was released that October and was supported with a nonstop barrage of touring; indeed, few bands toured as much as Skeletonwitch did around that time. They managed to take just enough time off to write and record a followup, and Breathing the Fire was released in the fall of 2009. The touring had also proved to be too much for Harris, who left in 2008 and was replaced by Evan Linger. The touring remained steady, and aside from a set of 7" singles in 2010, there was nothing out of the ordinary to report. Another lineup change occurred in early 2011, when Nau left and was replaced by Dustin Boltjes (Demiricous). Forever Abomination, their fourth full-length, was released in the fall of that year, and so it went, with another battery of touring followed by another full-length in 2013, this time titled Serpents Unleashed.
Everything remained steady until October of 2014, when Chance Garnette abruptly dropped off of a tour with no explanation until it emerged that he had appeared in a Massachusetts district court on assault and battery charges, and the band finally issued an official explanation: Chance was no longer a member, and Chance himself later clarified that his longstanding drinking problem had finally reached a breaking point and had gotten him kicked out. They managed to draft Andy "Weedgrinder" Horn (ex-Cannabis Corpse) as a fill-in for a European tour the following year, but everything went silent after that. That silence was eventually lifted in early 2016, when they announced Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer, ex-Veil of Maya) as their new vocalist, and The Apothic Gloom, their first release with Clemans, dropped that August. They did not really tour that much, however, and things stayed relatively quiet throughout 2017 and into 2018, until they announced two things: a major spring tour with Obituary, and a new full-length. Devouring Radiant Light will drop in July of 2018. Additionally, Boltjes left shortly before the tour started; while an official replacement has not yet been announced, Jon Rice will be filling in until they find one.
- At One with the Shadows (2004)
- Live, Friday the 13th (2004) (live video)
- Demo (2005)
- Worship the Witch (2006) (EP)
- Beyond the Permafrost (2007)
- Breathing the Fire (2009)
- At One with the Shadows / Bringer of Death (2010) (single)
- The Skullsplitter / No Rest for the Dead (2011) (single)
- Onward to Battle / The Infernal Resurrection (2011) (single)
- Tragedy of Days (2011) (single)
- Forever Abomination (2011)
- Serpents Unleashed (2013)
- Unending, Everliving (2014) (single)
- Well of Despair (2016) (single)
- The Apothic Gloom (2016) (EP)
- Devouring Radiant Light (2018)
The band contains examples of the following tropes:
- The Alcoholic/Can't Hold His Liquor: What got Chance Garnette fired. He had a serious longstanding drinking problem, but what pushed it over the edge was the fact that he was a sloppy and often abusive and violent drunk whose behavior regularly embarrassed the band even when he wasn't starting shit with people while he was drunk, and it was a drunken physical assault on his girlfriend in the lobby of a hotel in Massachusetts after downing one too many shots that finally got him thrown out for good.
- Badass Beard: Nate Garnette. Chance also sported a fairly impressive one.
- The Band Minus the Face: The reaction by a good portion of the fanbase after Chance was fired. While few would debate that he desperately needed to go for the sake of the band's survival, many of them saw him as an essential part of the band's identity and felt that Adam Clemans, while competent, just wasn't the same.
- Black Metal: They always had an undercurrent of melodic black metal, though "Red Death, White Light" on The Apothic Gloom was a detour into a straight example of melodic black metal. Devouring Radiant Light wound up being a full jump into the genre.
- Epic Rocking: "The Vault" (8:57), "Fen of Shadows" (7:58), "Red Death, White Light" (7:12), "Devouring Radiant Light" (6:46), and "Sacred Soil" (6:39).
- Melodic Death Metal: A darker and heavily thrash-influenced variant, but this was still their core genre up until Devouring Radiant Light.
- Metal Band Mascot: Skeleton Mitch, the skeletal demon/lich that was on all of their Chance Garnette-era album covers.
- Metal Scream: Chance Garnette and Adam Clemans are both Type 3s, though Clemans has a bit of a punk-flavored Type 1 edge to his.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: A 9 for their entire career, dipping into a soft 9/hard 8 on their more melodic tracks.
- New Sound Album: Devouring Radiant Light is a Genre Shift to melodic black metal. This was foreshadowed with "Red Death, White Light" on The Apothic Gloom, which was otherwise a fairly straightforward Skeletonwitch release in spite of the vocalist change.
- Sibling Team: The Garnette brothers (Chance and Nate) until the former was fired in 2014.
- Special Guest: Tony Laureano, Andy Horn (ex-Cannabis Corpse), and Jon Rice have all served as live fill-ins.
- Start My Own: Eric Harris started Gypsyhawk, which eventually broke up in 2015 before getting a new lease on life as Gygax. Subverted with Dustin Boltjes and Sacred Leather, as he joined after they had formed.
- Strictly Formula: From At One with the Shadows up until The Apothic Gloom, the band was known for putting out releases with no real stylistic deviations or left turns to speak of, with "Red Death, White Light" being something of an Out-of-Genre Experience that wound up being an early look at an eventual change in sound. This finally changed with Devouring Radiant Light.
- Thrash Metal: A major component of their sound, and they were often lumped in with the 2000s retro-thrash movement even though they really didn't have that much in common with most of those acts.
- We Used to Be Friends: The band's general stance towards Chance Garnette. Nate has tried his best to reconcile with him while still maintaining boundaries (namely making it clear that he will never, ever be allowed back in), while the rest of the band is happy to keep their distance.