Absolute Power by Wraith
Thrash! Sin! Speed! Death! Riffs! Blood! Power!! Just when I found myself scratching my head, sitting in the corner of my cold dark crypt, next to a pile of blood and weights thinking; “damn, I haven’t really heard a new THRASH record in quite a while that I was crazy about…” the rats in the walls squealed & the bats fluttered about as Indianapolis’s Wraith to have parted the skies or, uh, gates of hell to deliver the metal record so perfect for Death Comes Lifting’s aforementioned crypt it seems as if it was made for it. Allow me to explain, freaks.. let’s take a look.. first of all, the have employed the use an old school 70’s horror exploitation - esque artwork hauntingly fitting for the Halloween season. It features Death Himself (our friend The Reaper) stalking behind an unfortunate victim guaranteed to NOT crawl herself to safety; amongst a haunted house, a dead vegetation, and ravens. Check one. The title? ABSOLUTE POWER. Could it be any more to the point and bad ass (which directly translates to how their music sounds)? No. Check TWO. This had more going for before Wraith’s fist lick ever materialized itself into my cranium. Finally, when I had spun the thing, the opening riff hit me like an actual SLEDGEHAMMER and reminded me what thrash metal was really supposed to be. Finally, yet above all, I happen to take a gingerly ‘ol glance down the tracklist to see DEATH COMES RIPPING as the record’s finale. Are. You. Fucking. Kidding ME? NOW, it is actual go time. So, if this record wasn’t made for me, I don’t know what is. And I take that proudly as a shot of acid blood to the face that they provide.
I must admit, though, thrash is not, nor has it ever been, my preferred flavor of metal. That belongs to old school death; BUT I suppose, THAT would never exist if it wasn’t for thrash, punk, hardcore, etc.. being as they predate OSDM by quite a few records. For the sake of argument or more so this review doesn’t go off on a weird tangent that I like to think I have proven myself BEYOND capable of, we’ll just say my general opinion of thrash has been: there’s Slayer. Then there’s everybody else. End opinion. Alas, that may not be the healthiest open-minded perspective of all time or like that of which I have with most other genres, but so be it. Slayer is probably my favorite pure metal band of all time (crazy, underground, edgy, I know.. right??) So maybe that’s why it gets a little boring and/or whatever for me listening to most thrash metal, especially the newer shit. Sure, bands like Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, BAT, Hatchet, and the likes are bands worthy of praise but nothing I’d decide to bend over backwards in a graveyard for. The legends like Testament, Exodus, Kreator, and I’ll bore you if I keep going, are obviously awesome, BUT THEY AIN’T SLAYER. Enter: The realm of Blackened Thrash Metal. This is what really does it for me personally in terms of thrash, as that little extra shot of satanic death metal influence expands the genre into it was intended to be. It makes sense when you think about how many true black metal bands burst from the unholy loins of the thrash metal greats. So, when the more extreme blackened thrash began to snake its fangs into the world, it’s a glorious full-circle feeling of high energy and headbanging. I have always considered Skeletonwitch to be among the cream of the crop, as well as one of my personal favorite bands, but they just aint’ what they used to be (for better or for worse) these days. With the throne left empty (at least in my opinion), I lost almost complete touch with the thrash world… until the Almighty WRAITH have decided to claim the throne as their own.
Coming in hot off the rails of hell with “Devil’s Hour” the opening track that cranks the amps, the tempo, and the horror up to 13; provides not only a lesson in the riff, but resurrects the blackened thrash vocal style to the way it has been intended. “Your savior.. IS FINALLY GONE!!” I am not aware specifically to whom vocalist & six string sorcerer Matt Sokol is relegating this information , but my savior is alive and well within the grooves of Absolute Power. As the title suggest, the tone of this record is very much, well, powerful. Their mighty sound is definitely not too clean but definitely not too polished, either; sure to not lose interests of the purists and the black metal fanatics alike. This is truly a balanced sounding record, I mean, if your idea of balanced is the tempo akin to demonic werewolves bursting from the seams of hell complied with throat-shredding vocal tone. It has a crushing yet refined sound which gives off the early Morbid Angel vibe draped with a modern Goatwhore-like precision & speed, with of course with the blood of Slayer fueling the faith-incinerating fire. Only embellished with a few grooves and absolutely razor sharp bass propelled tunes; Wraith retrain their haunting, cruel, dark, vibe without sacrificing any pure metal for atmosphere. In fact, I would say it has atmosphere by the lack of it! A conundrum, perhaps, yet the true nature of the songs lie within their devilish delivery true to horror punk and thrash roots; as is reflected in tracks such as “The Curse” and of course the tribute, “Death Comes Ripping.”
And a-ripping-it-fucking DOES as this is EASILY the best rendition of the tune to my knowledge; AND maybe.. juuust maybe.. the best Misfits cover of all time. YES. I SAID IT. I mean, we all know there are an inappropriate amount of Misfit covers out there so if you’re gonna do it, you better fucking DO IT. THEY DID IT. I credit much of this tune to the percussion as the hybrid metal drum style really gives this punk song the extra push and edge it needed to soar into infinite death territory. That’s a good thing, mind you. I don’t wish to take away from their original material, though, as their is more than enough master metal songwriting crammed into this hardly half hour plague of death that most bands don’t pull off in 2 records. Not to mention, a ludicrous amount of dynamic power channeled through a mere 3-piece band. The unholy trinity of Wraith must have some black magic like chemistry going on between them as it’s undoubtedly refreshing to hear a record invoking such horrifying vibes & grim atmosphere with quick songs and a short runtime overall. Going back to my point on atmosphere, as it seems to be a bit of a trend in metal today with 15 minute plus compositions and such; I find it rather awesome that Wraith can pull off just as much with a hell (no pun intended) of a lot less. As far as I’m concerned, that is just all the more testament to their songwriting ability while not trying anything to be something that they are not. They are perfect blackened thrash metal and it should be left at that! Zero pretentiousness. Zero bullshit. Just straight to the bone, American Thrash Metal (motherfucker). Since when did that get so complicated?
Now, that may not be the most universal definition of “a breath of fresh air” as it is to me, but I say take a listen to “Meaningless Planet” and that shall serve as a fine rebuttal. Once again, powered by that brutal bass interlude (compliments to bass master Chris Petkus), it is a standout song of the record that will make you want to either change the path of nature or hurl yourself into it. Furthermore, “Eyes of the Sacred Ram” (which can eerily also be attributed to a Death Comes Lifting shirt design..) and “Absolute Power” and perfectly powerful skeleton shakers that showcase Wraith’s ability to walk on the line of grind within their blend of blackened thrash metal punk. Hey, I like that. Blackened Thrash Metalpunk. Sounds as sweet as this album, Absolute Power, does. All love for this band as they reignited some fire within for thrash metal, as well as the enormous weight lifting potential this record shall provide. Hail Redefining Darkness for yet another stellar release that shall have the crypt shaking and screaming throughout the Halloween season. *cue lightning strikes and evil laughter*
Gym Rating 13/5
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