Review Summary: Defying genre standards and surpassing my expectations for a second time in a row, Wretched continue to impress in 2014.
In a rather unique case among their peers, Charlotte technical death(core?) outfit Wretched has released an incredibly strong and well-rounded full-length. Their second subsequent release to score a high rating for me, 2014's "Cannibal
" is a progression in some ways and a change of pace in others from the band's previous effort, 2012's "The Son of Perdition
". Showcasing the same talent, the band has opted for a more high-octane approach to their sound environment, bringing to our ears a pristine mix of off-the-rails drumming and eclectic but enjoyable guitarwork. Adam Cody's occasionally-asynchronous vocal style rounds the band's sound out, and when the instrumentation comes together, it creates a moment both brutal and beautiful. Brace yourselves, because this may be the one and only time I use the term 'brutiful'.
With the voice of Glass Casket on vocal duty, Wretched has one hell of a throat to their operation. Cody's vocals drive the mix forward, propelling the sound to new heights just as it did two years earlier. The vocals of "Cannibal
" vary between sharp high shrieks and deep low growls, occasionally defying the rhythm of the song to rampage through the mix. Cody's vocal performance belies experience and tact - there are plenty of times he downright ignores the expected vocal patterns of a song to deliver his own crushing screams, and other times he follows them to the letter. Whatever approach he takes, though, it's for the better of the song. He does a great job of directing the flow of the track and making it an ear-pleaser. With every grunt and howl a satisfying one, the vocals on "Cannibal
" set some high expectations for the rest of the instrumentation to meet.
Thankfully, Wretched's twin guitarists do a fine job of meeting those expectations. Moore and Funderburk supply the mix of "Cannibal
" with a healthy dose of virtuosity on tracks like "To the Flies" and the title track, the latter of which is a lengthy instrumental in the vein of the "Stellar Sunset of Evolution" trio from "The Son of Perdition
". When they're not fingering their fretboards, the guitarists show off their ability to deliver crushing riffs and technical solos on tracks like "Morsel" and "Calloused", creating a powerful sound for most of the album. With Grevey behind the basswork, the guitar duties as a whole are rounded out rather well; the bass provides a solid foundation for the fills and the frets, allowing them to shred like crazy while still maintaining a raw sound. Their performances even include a well-constructed breakdown on the opening of "Thin Skinned", a testament to their early days in the deathcore genre and how far they've come since.
If your drummer's got a pretentious and probably-retarded nickname, either he's full of himself, or he'd better be damn good. While I'm not so sure about the former prerequisite, Marshall "Gorebang" Wieczorek delivers when it comes to performance, writing out some of the most memorable drum fills of the year. From the first few opening tracks, the powerful pounding of the snare and the high hats meshes with the relentless bass kicks to produce a tried-and-true method of cannibalising the listener's ears in a flurry of brutality. On the slower songs, Wieczorek displays an uncanny ability to stray from the 'beat the shi
t out of everything' approach and play a sombre, melancholic tune. The fills on "Cannibal
" are both technically-proficient and structurally-impressive, all at the same time, and they compliment the mix by propelling the fast moments and backing up the slow ones.
The dedication of this five-man outfit requires both technical skill and musical passion. Between the vocal proficiency of Adam Cody and the instrumental experience behind the rest of the band, Wretched have carved out their own slice of death metal with "Cannibal
", proving that their previous album wasn't just a freak of nature. This is a promising direction for the band, and I hope to see more stellar releases come from them as time marches on. It might not stick as well as "The Son of Perdition
", but it's a damn good album in its own right, fitting right in among the modern records from technical giants like Origin and Allegaeon. It takes some serious prowess to impress me twice in a row, but Wretched have done it, and that's praise-worthy in and of itself.