Within the space of just seventeen short minutes, Chicago thrash metal band Wraith paint a relentless, brutal world, where there’s no rules and chaos reigns supreme. On their palette is shades of punk, thrash and rock and roll, from which the group of three apply to their debut self titled project in heavy strokes to create an an EP that ultimately feels like Toxic Holocaust on speed.
One of Wraith’s greatest strengths on their debut release is their ability to incorporate numerous elements of black metal into their work without diluting the energy and aggression of thrash. It’s an integral part of their sound, as listeners can see from the sample of Bruce Campbell’s 1992 film, Army of Darkness, but not once does the project feel slow or syrupy; there’s a fine balance that the band have struck. Sonically, Wraith as an EP feels very tight and clean, and while it may come across somewhat minimalist or clinical, it’s pulled off technically very well, with Matt Sokol’s guitar complimenting the other instruments to provide the layers in sound to keep the songs fresh and interesting without an established atmosphere. This is perhaps most noticeable on the title track Kneel Before, where the subtle guitar riffs that are established around the one minute mark lend the track some additional complexity and diversity.
Moving down the tracklist, the second song on the EP, Hell, is two minutes of solid punchy sound, and although Sokol’s vocals can feel lost behind the other instruments, it’s a fun take on contemporary thrash metal. Between it and World War, the following track, there’s a lyrical theme established full of death, melting bone and survival in an apocalyptic wasteland; very typical themes for the genre. What lyrics there are tend to focus more on establishing the project’s tone than telling a story, which isn’t unusual or negative for the genre, however as previously mentioned sometimes they sound a little muddy, which could is a shame, as what we do hear on tracks like Follow the Reaper is sharp. One would imagine that it’s a teething issue for such a new band that will hopefully be resolved under the careful eye of Joel Grind, who is mixing and mastering Wraith’s second project. Finally, the EP concludes with a cover of the Motorhead track The Hammer, which is executed tastefully and was a thematically fitting choice for the project.
Wraith has created an EP that feels like an amalgamation of their contemporaries, with sounds of Venom and Midnight mixed with a dash of Black Sabbath, that’s been executed near flawlessly. Small criticisms hinder the project ever so slightly, such as the overpowered vocals and somewhat concentrated sound, but the band will inevitably grow and develop with time. Make sure you give this project a listen, and make sure you keep an eye out for Wraith’s impending success!
Listen to Wraith here: https://wraith219.bandcamp.com/releases