Metal Double Feature: Serpents Unleashed and Chemistry of Consciousness

This last week marked the release of Skeletonwitch’s Serpents Unleashed and Toxic Holocaust’s Chemistry of Consciousness. Coincidentally, the opening tracks for both albums are about snakes.

Which makes them pretty brutal, obviously.

I don’t think I’ve had as much fun listening to a record since Torche’s Harmonicraft as I did Serpents Unleashed. The riff structures and melodies are absolutely brilliant and refreshing, and Chance Garnett’s vocals are absolutely on point. Serpents Unleashed avoids the blandness of Forever Abomination and the cheesiness of Breathing the Fire, and instead delivers something akin to the hyper-rhythmic melodies on Beyond the Permafrost. You don’t have to look much further than the second track to figure out that this is a fundamentally revamped Skeletonwitch, complete with welcome improvements in songwriting. The riffs are heavier and more evil, the vocals are more twisted than ever, and the rhythms are faster and more chaotic than their previous efforts. This album is heavy and relentless, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Don’t believe me? Check out “I Am of Death” below:

I traditionally haven’t been the biggest fan of Toxic Holocaust’s thrash-revival thing, but Chemistry of Consciousness genuinely surprised me with how fresh it sounds. They brought their black metal influences to the forefront of their riffs and stepped back their party-rock vibe, making Chemistry of Consciousness sound more like a mature record from a mature band and less like something I’d only listen to when I wanted to drink beer and break stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

If any of you metal wizards are into Toxic Holocaust, definitely try to find them live this winter. Joel Grind is a Portland native, and holy f**k can he put on a live show.

Basically, if you’re in the mood for some feel-good blackened thrash, give these albums a listen. Both are out now on Relapse Records.

Hail Satan.

Skeletonwitch Tour Dates: http://www.skeletonwitch.com/tour.php

Toxic Holocaust Tour Dates: http://www.toxicholocaust.com/

(Even though Toxic Holocaust is only scheduled for the east coast right now, I’d be surprised if they didn’t have a show in Portland at least once this winter)

– Zander

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