Look. In the hunt for excellent heavy metal with which to rudely awaken our slumbering populace, we're well aware that some genres, by nature, aren't...how shall we say. Subtle in their execution?
The nasty blackened thrash/speed metal/punk conglomerate brokered by Wraith is the definition of one such sonic palette. Gloriously exemplified by high-octane riffage, rabid vocals, and a general sense of fun-loving wild abandon, their sophomoric album is an effort as energetic as it is loud. Take opener "Devil's Hour" as a prime example of all that follows: a raucous ride, equal parts deadly and jubilant. Think Midnight, Witchtrap, or perhaps Exciter, all by way of Venom. While the more critical among us would comment on the extreme brevity and the general lack of diversity, I'm here to say, emphatically: who gives a damn? I went into Absolute Power expecting an absolute ripper, and that's exactly what I got. No more, no less. Thank god.
Wraith are firing on all cylinders here, and it’s a wonder to behold. The bombastic nature of the performance--not histrionic, but certainly dramatic--outweighs debut Heed the Warning in almost every respect. These guys aren't holding anything back, and thus, everything falls into place with a larger-than-life gravitas. Chomp-at-the-bits riffs and thick bass lead the charge, with vicious vocals barking and biting at the heels. Meanwhile, the occasional solo and mid-tempo break keep things from getting terribly stale. The lyrics are simple, yet remain relentlessly effective. I don’t care who you are: it’s goddamn gratifying to snap one’s neck to a refrain as unpretentious as “Devil’s hour/It’s fuckin devil’s hour.” Talk about invigorating.
It’s a balls-to-the-wall formula, and, of course, we’ve all seen it done before. But when well executed--as herein--we all know said formula works quite well. Highlight tracks? I particularly love the driving riffage on "Acid Bath," the punky 'tude of "Devil's Hour," and the all-out assault of "War of Aggression." The latter, in particular, is full of thrashy piss ‘n’ vinegar, and serves nicely as a highwater halfway point across the album’s brief 28 minute runtime. The Misfits cover (“Death Comes Ripping”), which closes things out, is a particularly nice touch as well. The track in question fits incredibly into the Wraith fold, and while I’m typically wary of covers, this one certainly merits inclusion.
Towards the end, do the songs kinda bleed together? Yeah. Do the thematic leanings feel kinda campy? Also yeah. But again, if you're looking at the hallmarks of Wraith's chosen arena, that's pretty par for the course unless you're talking about, I dunno, Skeletonwitch. And we're not.
Absolute Power is--besides a successful sophomore release--a killer slab of bombastic, aggressive, and otherwise heartfelt heavy metal. It's a certified headbanger, and remains one of the most fun releases I've had the pleasure of reviewing this year. Highly recommended!
Wraith - Absolute Power will be released Aug. 16th, 2019