Wretched is a band that has been around for a few years and had released three fairly under the radar albums since 2009. I had heard a few things from them here and there over the years, but I have never really taken the chance to dive that deeply into any of it. Sufficing to say when Victory Records gave me the opportunity to review their fourth release, Cannibal, I didn’t fully know what to expect. Upon first listen, I was blown away and that feeling only continued to increase on each subsequent replay. Much like Battlecross’ 2013 album War Of Will, this album totally came out of nowhere and absolutely kicked my ass.
Victory bills Wretched as a technical death metal band, but to me they play much more like a technical thrash/death thrash band with large smatterings of melodic death metal. They reminded me a bit of a better and more progressive version of The Black Dahlia Murder, most notably on the chorus riff, solo and vocals contained in the song “To the Flies”. The vocals from lead singer Adam Cody range from spectacular rasp, to shrieks and high quality gutturals reminiscent of Trevor Strnad.
This all makes for a great sound, but the absolute best thing about Wretched is their musical balance. They have the perfect mix of everything. The musicianship and time signatures are excellent without things ever getting too overly technical. The essential death metal elements are there, but they are careful to never go too far overboard with the guttural vocals and blast beats. Finally the speedy thrash riffs are almost unassumingly tossed into the fray.
Cannibal has everything including the short and fast, heavy grooves, harmonized guitars and even some solid instrumentals. Things begin furiously with catchy grooves and thrashy riffs on songs like “Morsel”, “Calloused” and “Thin Skinned”. As great as the beginning is, the back end of the album is where the band really hits their stride. Starting with the track “Cranial Infestation”, things really start to hit a fast, no nonsense pace with brilliantly performed riffs and great arrangements. This was probably my favorite song on the album with it’s amazing mix of ripping riffs, tech death chorus, excellent double bass drumming and a superlative bass driven progressive bridge.
Things continue rapidly with other top tracks including the fast to slow pace of “Salt Lick”, the harmonized grooviness of “Wetiko” and the aforementioned melodic death metal induced “To The Flies”. In addition to these songs, the latter half on the album also boasts what I consider to be the second best song on the album, which unbelievably is not death metal at all.
“Cannibal” is an over seven minute instrumental song with copious amounts of crazy time changes, highly complicated riff and arrangements and stellar bass work from Andrew Grevey. For those of you that are into straightforward progressive metal, you will absolutely love this song. With the exception of the heavier groovy bridge portion, this song is more akin to something that a band like Animals As Leaders might bring to the table, minus the djent palm mutes.
The band’s musical work as a whole on Cannibal is nothing short of excellent, but the stand out stars here are definitely guitarists Steven Funderburk and Joel Moore. These guys can play fast, slow and everything in between with amazing technical precision. They have an amazing knack for perfectly mixing in harmonized guitar overlays that fit well even on the heaviest of tracks. Funerbunk and Moore also turn in great guitar solos that range from short and thrashy to long, soaring and technical.
Cannibal is a great followup to Wretched’s critically acclaimed 2012 album Son of Perdition because it expands even further on the mix of sounds that made that album so great. If you have been a fan of the band all along, you will love Wretched’s latest offering. For those of you that have never really checked them out, make sure you give this one a shot. You might get quite the unexpected surprise. The band once again works with what got them to this point, while continuing to evolve. This is definitely one of my favorite releases so far in 2014. Cannibal could easily be the album that brings Wretched a wealth of new fans and a groundswell of advanced popularity.
Cannibal will be released on June 10, 2014. Take a listen when it’s available and then give us you opinion of the album in the comments section. Do you agree with our assessment or do you have a different take?
You can also check out my interview with front man Adam Cody HERE.