Label: UKEM Records
Wretched Soul are one of those bands who are so difficult to categorize, but who can quickly be understand. Even after a single listen to latest album The Ghost Road, you know exactly where the band are coming from; mixing thrash, heavy, and even bits of black and death metal, Wretched Soul are probably best termed simply as ‘extreme metal’, but that doesn’t tell even half the story. It comes nowhere close to capturing how energetic their sound is, how each track moves with a seemingly untameable energy, simultaneously recalling the best of classic heavy and thrash metal whilst also sounding modern and fresh. Nor does it hint at the sheer sense of enjoyment held in the record, with each track seemingly designed to ensure headbanging and raised fists. Quite simply put, it’s really rather good.
All the hallmarks of classic metal are present throughout the album, right from the “woahs” that open first track “Necromancer”, which soon gives way to high-tempo riffs and melodies whose lineage can clearly be traced back to Kill ‘Em All and Iron Maiden’s grittier moments, best evidenced on second track “War Wolf”, which is an absolute stormer of a song. The sense of drama in tracks such as “The Silent God” recalls Mercyful Fate, as do the more ominous and dark tracks such as “The Great Destroyer” and “I Am The Thunderer”, that also show more of the extreme metal influences, most notably in the contrast between the higher vocals and death metal growls. Some of the guitar lines in “I Am The Thunderer” even show clear Dissection influences, adding a little frostiness to proceedings.
Even as its most intense and dark though, The Ghost Road never feels as if it’s trying to be too violent or aggressive, and whilst those may be aspects of Wretched Soul’s sound, the over-riding sense is one of heavy metal euphoria combined with a more modern sense of extremity. The strong, clear production really helps in this regard too, giving the album the clarity it needs to do justice to all the different elements at play, without totally taking away the dirt. What’s most impressive though is the way that Wretched Soul play with such obvious passion and conviction, which causes The Ghost Road to feel like something new and exciting even as it takes influence from some well-worn references. At no point does it feel predictable or tired, and the energy the band put across is hard to argue with. It all adds up to make The Ghost Road a very strong, enjoyable record, and UKEM Records have another great release on their roster. If you at all care about or enjoy heavy metal in 2016, then you really should be checking Wretched Soul out, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the band went on to become pretty big. Based on The Ghost Road, they’re definitely capable of it.