Album: Wraith (2017)
Genre: thrash metal, punk
Where to buy: Bandcamp
I don’t tend to review metal with harsh vocals, as the metal growl isn’t very appealing to me, but when I first heard Wraith I had a smile on my face. That may be due to the sound clip that starts the album, from the classic comedy horror movie, Army of Darkness. “You shall never obtain the Necronomicon!” was instantly recognizable, and following on its heels is the band’s self-titled debut. It’s hard-hitting, heavy, and extremely tight. All eight songs on here add up to barely 17 minutes, but in that brief time Wraith demonstrates what they’re capable of, which is a fun version of contemporary thrash with a fair amount of punk influence for the crossover crowd.
Wraith comes on fast and clean. The album is almost minimalistic, or as minimalistic as a four-piece metal band can be, which is something of a trick as there are very few moments when anything less than the entire ensemble is playing. Drums, bass, two guitars, and vocals feel almost pared down to just a few musical techniques, and with these self-imposed sanctions Wraith goes to work. Big, dirty, distorted chords create three- and four-chord progressions. Basslines gallop across the fretboard with just the right amount of gain for this sort of metal. Drums pump heavy and constantly, with fills and transitions from double to cut time and back in all the places you expect. The quick songs, none clocking in at more than three minutes, are wall-to-wall sound, letting all elements of the ensemble play fast and aggressively, like you’d hear on a hardcore punk album. There are a few brisk guitar solos and a couple places where the guitars drop out and the bass gives us a thick, metallic line, but they’re over fast and quickly subsumed as the band goes tutti. The energy on Wraith is great, and it’s clearly what the band is aiming for. On this short release, the group shares their passion for thrash and related music.
The subject matter on Wraith is extremely straightforward. The band covers topics you can hear broached on almost any thrash release: death, hell, war, servility, and so on. While the lyrics here won’t break any barriers, they remain apt to the music and particularly to the scale of the songs. In less than 90 seconds on “World War,” it is far better to illustrate the concept of a world war than to sloppily take a more critical position. Similarly, songs like “Kneel Before” and “Forced Evolution” gesture at concepts instead of interrogating them, which is fine for this sort of rapid-fire thrash. These are conscious decisions by the band, who recognizes that their role is to get a crowd moving, something these songs lend themselves to. As a debut, Wraith is full of apt musicianship and songwriting, but I hope that the band is able to expand their scope a bit on their upcoming 2018 record, and I look forward to hearing it.