Wretched Returns with Son of Perdition
Thursday, April 26, 2012 Leave a comment
For fans of Between the Buried and Me, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Opeth
I never expected Wretched’s 2010 sophmore release, Beyond the Gate, to be as good as it was. It was leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, The Exodus of Autonomy, and featured some of the most impressively original songwriting I had heard from an American death-metal band in a very long time. Well, the Northern Carolina metalheads have returned with their follow-up, Son of Perdition, last month, and though it may not be as huge a leap forward as Beyond the Gate was, it’s another strong offering from one of the most underrated emerging bands in death metal.
The thing that’s most apparent about Son of Perdition is how different the fundamental sound of the band changed with the addition of their new vocalist, Adam Cody. I never hated Billy Powers’ (Exodus of Autonomy, Beyond the Gate) vocal style, but it never called too much attention to itself, either. Cody is much more ambitious of a vocalist, sporting various different types of screams throughout the album, and demonstrating a much more aggressive style that often puts his screams front and center of the mix. I’m not 100% sure this is a good thing for this band. Now, let me get something out of the way; I’m not saying his vocals are bad by any means. Cody sports an incredible range from your standard low growls to high screams similar to Trevor Strnad (Black Dahlia Murder) and raspier shouts that fondly reminded me of Robert Meadows of A Life Once Lost (they’re finally working on new album!!). My point is that with Powers’ more modest style, the songs focused almost solely on the incredible songwriting and skills of guitarists Steven Funderburk and John Vail. That being said, I think Cody showcased a strong debut, but I do think he steps on the guitarists’ toes just a tad on this release. I’m sure this is something that will iron itself out as the band members continue to get a feel for each other on future releases. Moving on!
Wretched – “Dilated Disappointed”
What really makes Wretched stand out to me is their focus on dynamics, a point well-illustrated on Beyond the Gate. The band is never overly-technical, the songs are never focused on getting the most karate-kicks out of breakdowns. Instead, the musicians in this band are adept at bringing movements into songs, creating builds and swells, which truly demonstrates their skills far more than any 7-minute prove-it-core band ever could. Following the tradition set on Beyond the Gate, Son of Perdition also rocks a three-part instrumental, “The Stellar Sunset of Evolution.” No sitars or symphonies this time, but I think we’ll make due. That’s got to be too hard to top.
This album has got a great mix of brutality and melody, with killer tracks like “At the First Sign of Rust” demonstrating both these elements hand in hand, which has some of the best headbanging moments on the album, even though most the first half is slow and ethereal. The intro melody in “Dream of Chaos” just might be the smoothest melody on the album, and in fact, every time that song comes on, I find myself checking which song it is because I always forget just how bad ass that intro is. Of course, this wouldn’t be a death metal album if it weren’t for juggernauts like the record’s opening (real) song, “Imminent Growth,” a relentless assault of blast beats, 16th notes, and face-shredding that really gets the album started on a good foot. It’s this carefully refined mix of heaviness and virtuosity that makes albums like these difficult to put down.
Son of Perdition is a pretty short record though, clocking in just over 38 minutes. And although this album isn’t as much of a huge leap forward as their last was, Perdition is still a fantastic release from a band you owe it to yourself to know about.