Monday 19 September 2016

Wretch - S/T (Album Review)

Release date: August 26th 2016. Label: Bad Omen Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Wretch – S/T – Tracklisting

1. Running Out Of Days
2. Rest In Peace
3. Bloodfinger
4. Winter(Judas Priest cover)
5. Icebound
6. Grey Cast Mourning
7. Drown

Band Members:

Karl Simon - vocals, guitar
Bryce Clarke - bass guitar
Chris Gordon - drums


This one of the most anticipated releases for me this year, if not for the decade. Already when the Indianapolis band formed back in 2013, I've been yearning for their debut. That was heightened even further after seeing their powerful performance at Vultures Of Volume II in 2015. So when news started to filter through that Karl Simon's new band was about to unleash some kind of magic, yours truly has been walking on egg shells. But now the wait is over and holy mother of all things heavy and doom, Wretch's self-titled first wax is beyond words.

Karl lead the charge in his former band the mighty The Gates Of Slumber, where his passionate voice and brilliant guitar playing set the tone for a kind of doom metal no one could superseded. Therefore, after the sad demise of that band, I, for one, has missed Karl immensely. However, that is rectified and then some, since he is back with a vengeance. And his old cohort from The Gates Of Slumber, Chris Gordon, bangs the skins.

A sinister, foreboding riff sets off opener, 'Running Out Of Days'. Pounding drums follows before the thumping bass guitar joins in and the song explodes. Relentlessly Wretch pushes through the pain, anger and dejection of watching someone close fade away and die. It leads straight into ‘Rest In Peace’ where the rhythm section annihilates me, while THE riffs shreds whatever remains of me into nothingness. Lyrically, it is one of the most candid and heartfelt songs I’ve ever heard: “My life's been my own making, mine and mine alone, a cross to bear, a heavy stone”. It’s a strange sensation, yet liberating at the same time, to headbang and thrash around madly, while tears are streaming down my cheeks to the memories of long gone but nor forgotten friends. Listen to Karl’s fantastic guitar solo and his tormented vocals. Sends chills down my spine. A wonderful composition in all it’s misery. ‘Bloodfinger’ is one of two instrumentals on ‘Wretch’. Soaring and floating, looking for release the band is on point. They work within a structure but throws down the gauntlet at the same time, jamming heavily. Kind of trippy and I love it! Going way back in time, Wretch unleashes Judas Priest’s ‘Winter’ from ‘Rocka Rolla’ and they make it their own, and then some. And that’s how covers should be done.

A true doom gem with strong heavy metal leanings and again, the rhythm section - Bryce Clarke, bass guitar, and Chris Gordon – is so tight and badass, which allows Karl total freedom and he uses that wonderfully. Punishing in tone and brutally honest in words. Armed with only a guitar, the second instrumental, ‘Grey Cast Mourning’, puts on the table what a fantastic six stringer Mr. Simon is. You are hard pressed to find a better wordless eulogy for a fallen friend. Cinematic in parts and medieval parts, Karl paints candidly on a grey canvas the emotions emanating from severe loss. Slow, brooding and kind of claustrophobic, closer ‘Drown’ is about when all hope is gone. Wherever you turn, whatever you do you see yourself painted into a corner by the demons that haunts you, and there’s nowhere else to go but down.

I can only speak for myself, obviously, but as dark and bleak Wretch’s debut album is lyrically, it is a catharsis every time I spin it. The music is impeccable, mixing doom with heavy metal and trippy to great aplomb. Add the purging lyrics and you have an album of the greatest quality. What else is there to stay about a wax that makes you go bonkers, bouncing around the house while wearing all your emotions on your sleeves? Wretch, thank you for creating this amazing work of art….and welcome back Karl and Chris!

Words by Håkan Nyman


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