By all accounts, Wretch’s self-titled debut was a hard album to make. This is not only indicated by the Hoosier trio’s traditional downer doom style, but also by the album’s presentation: seven tracks total at only 32 minutes and feature two instrumentals and an obscure Judas Priest cover in their ranks. Fortunately, the material itself is strong and allows Wretch to put a solid step forward.
Seeing how Wretch is helmed by The Gates of Slumber guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon and also features past Gates drummer Chris Gordon, it isn’t too surprising to note similarities between the two groups. From the opening gallop on “Running Out Of Days” to the snail’s crawl on the closing “Drown,” you’ll find plenty of crushing riffs, downtrodden vocals, and inspiring uses of the power trio format. It feels like a cross between Gates’ debut album …The Awakening and their similarly-titled 2011 album The Wretch.
But while The Gates of Slumber had plenty of long drawn out doom dirges, they never sounded this loose. In addition to the two instrumentals offering different moods, “Rest In Peace” and “Icebound” ride some extended jams, and there is an off the cuff vibe that can be felt throughout. This is best heard on “Winter,” a doomy take on a song off Judas Priest’s ever underrated Rocka Rolla. While the original track was the opening of a greater suite, Wretch snugly place in the middle of their effort and it flows smoothly into the other tracks.
The tight musicianship also keeps things together. Simon’s watery leads often drive the songs when they aren’t being built up by his melodic crunch and appropriately mournful cries. Fortunately, bassist Bryce Clark holds down the fort during the solos and the drums punctuate the slow rhythms well, also preserving the brief solo in “Winter” quite nicely.
While Wretch’s debut may seem too short, the performances go a long way to show that this wasn’t hastily put together. It’s a cathartic effort that broadcasts the band members’ grief and loss even in the midst of its most free-flowing jams. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out when Wretch’s strength has been fully gathered.
“Running Out Of Days”
“Rest in Peace”