Scott Hedrick called from Oklahoma City last Friday, immersed in the endless grind of touring that landed his band, Skeletonwitch, on the cover of Decibel this month.

Scott Hedrick called from Oklahoma City last Friday, immersed in the endless grind of touring that landed his band, Skeletonwitch, on the cover of Decibel this month.

"We typically stay out a lot, and when we are on the road, we try to avoid days off. You get out of the groove. You spend money instead of making it," Hedrick said. "We deserve today's day off, I think."

A day of hotel sleeping, Wal-Mart errands and van tune-ups was certainly in order. The Athens, Ohio metal masters had just finished four weeks opening for Arch Enemy and DevilDriver in sizable U.S. clubs. Before that, they tore through Europe for three weeks. Now they had one day 1,000 miles from home to rest up before embarking on a headlining U.S. jaunt of their own.

Such ceaseless travels have always been essential for a band like Skeletonwitch. Though bands can reach fans online without hitting the road, the instant access makes it that much harder to stand out.

"You could start five bands tomorrow if you wanted to, make pages for them, make logos," Hedrick said. "To get noticed, you've got to come to everybody else."

They've certainly been noticed. Since forming in 2003, Skeletonwitch has played Ozzfest, opened for Danzig, toured the world and generated hundreds of glowing reviews. Then there's that Decibel cover, one of the crowning achievements for a metal band.

"We played our first show in Athens on a plywood stage that we built ourselves because we had trouble booking a real show," Hedrick said. "I certainly didn't think we'd be on the cover of any magazine."

They did take a break from the road early this year, but only to craft their finest album yet. They'll celebrate "Forever Abomination," released this week on Prosthetic Records, with a string of Ohio shows, including a Columbus stop Friday at Ravari Room with Shrine of Suffering and The Pandemic Nemesis.

The record is as grotesque as anything Skeletonwitch has unleashed on the populace, once again funneling relentless terror into harsh, compact blasts. (Song titles: "This Horrifying Force (The Desire To Kill)," "Rejoice In Misery," "Shredding Sacred Flesh.") All aspects are honed and sharpened, from the punishing riffs and rhythms to the harmonized shredding to Chance Garnette's garish vocals - "the most evil sounding but clearest we've had yet," Hedrick said.

Perhaps most importantly, underneath the onslaught is something many metal bands neglect: songwriting.

"Songs should be memorable," Hedrick said. "I think some bands just try to bludgeon you."

Besides the standard CD, vinyl and digital release, the album will be available on a limited edition green splatter vinyl at tour stops.

"This will probably be everyone in Ohio's only chance because we're touring a ton," Hedrick said. "We're not going to be back in Ohio for a minute."

They rarely are, and such dedication is paying off big time.