I tend to be a little judgmental when it comes to thrash metal, especially when newer bands try their hands at it, because so often it just goes wrong. This is one of metal’s few subgenres that actually requires a sense of acquiring the sound’s spirit, and just putting on a pair of white high tops isn’t going to do it for you. I enjoy so few of these bands, not that I haven’t tried.
But that isn’t a blanket statement on all bands, as sometimes one comes in and just nails it from the start, sort of like Indiana’s Wraith, who are in full command on their third record “Undo the Chains.” Part of what makes this band work so well is they’re not trying to put on a costume or revive an era in which they didn’t live. Instead, they get to work on these 12 tracks that blast over 32 minutes and deliver mashing, blackened, punk-fueled power that gets in your bones and does ample damage. The band—vocalist/guitarist Matt Sokol, lead guitarist Jason Schultz, bassist Chris Petkus, drummer Mike Szymendera—is locked in, hammering you with tracks that don’t overstay their welcome, splitting your lips with pulverizing intensity that also happens to be a blast of fucking fun at the same time.
The title cut opens, a quick intro piece that chugs and burns, setting the stage for what follows, with the first up being “Dominator” that amplifies the dangerous fun. “Created to kill, that’s just what he’ll do,” Sokol warns as the band delivers nasty thrashing that leaves ample facial bruising. “Gate Master” lands heavy punches as the guitars unload fire, and the raspy howls power the machine. The simple single-word chorus blisters and should do the same live, while hefty punishment keeps raining down. “Mistress of the Void” gets off to a smoking start with great guitar work getting things flowing, with Sokol wailing, “Don’t be afraid, it’s you she’s here to claim.” The band rips hard as the chorus makes its mark, ending thing with a jarring charge. “Cloaked in Black” is just mashing with a dangerous chorus that gets inside of you and the guitars spilling dump trucks of lava. Things then take a nice classic thrash bend, sending sparks as the track blasts out. “Born to Die” is in a similar vein as it unleashes some vintage metal fire, a chorus that cracks your ribcage, and dual guitars aligning and blinding. The track keeps the energy flowing, ripping into you and leaving you a quivering pile.
“Time Wins” is a fast blast with nasty vocals, music that corrode, and a jolting, alluring attack that grinds away at your mental faculties. “Gift of Death” is speedy as hell as the bass rollicks and the vocals are spat out like they have a bitter taste. The gang shouts of the song’s title get you in the guts as the pace blinds, and the band shows some excellent fire. “Disgusting” has guitars blazing as the track goes for broke, with the simple chorus making its filthy point and rendering you too sore to move any great distance. “Bite Back” amps up quickly with Sokol howling, “Sharpen your teeth, embrace the pain,” almost like he’s giving you a violent pep talk. Catchy riffs and a slaughtering mentality combine and make all the pain you felt worth your while. “Victims for the Sword” has guitars stirring as things get out of control in a hurry, blasting by with punk fury and molten intensity, setting the stage for closer “Terminate” that wastes no time delivering the crunch. The band wails, “Terminate!” over the chorus, which live crowds are sure to mimic, and the track stomps and hammers, giving you one final taste of their storming volatility.
There have been enough bands that have tried to find thrash metal’s true spirit and have totally succumbed to the pressure, but Wraith are not one of those. What surely helps is that “Undo the Chains” is not a band trying to wear something that doesn’t fit them as they instead take a sound they love and batter it to their will. This is bruising, unforgiving, triumphant shit that is sure to get you bloodied in the pit but stronger for having endured the challenge.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wraiththrash
To buy the album, go here: https://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/products/705934-wraith-undo-the-chains
For more on the label, go here: https://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/