It has become so commonplace as to be clichéd for death metal bands and labels to claim that their music, though immersed in old-school traditions, nevertheless brings something new to the table — and it rarely proves to be true. Much of the time, the alleged up-dating consists of little more than more modern production techniques, which sometimes only succeeds in robbing the music of the rough and raw power it once had. And particularly in the case of old school Swedish death metal, there’s not much you can do to vary the sound without breaking the chain that links the music to its origins.
The Swedish band Wretched Fate, on the other hand, really have found a sweet spot, indulging a genuine passion for death metal of the past, but in a way that doesn’t sound formulaic. They’ve undeniably caught the sound and spirit of the giants on whose shoulders they stand, but have injected their songs with a fieriness and flair that we rarely encounter in the music of groups whose inspirations are so firmly rooted in an era that’s now nearly three decades old.
Wretched Fate‘s new album is named Fleshletting, and that’s a fitting title, because their music is catastrophically ferocious. There’s blood splatter galore in these sonic rampages, and a steadfast devotion to rendering human bodies into ugly piles of pulverized bone and steaming gristle. But as you’re about to discover through the song we’re premiering, they bring a lot of other interesting techniques to the table besides a taste for brazen slaughtering.
The song in question, which shares the name of the band, is the one that opens the album, and it’s an eye-opening statement of intent. Rather than a lurching, ghoulish affair, the track is fast and furious (though accented by a few brief and eerie breaks in the rampaging). The massive HM-2 tone in the heaving and harrowing riffs will be immediately familiar, but that thick, toxic, sawing sensation doesn’t drown out everything else. Part of the sweet spot Wretched Fate have found is a production strategy that preserves the raw immensity and power channeled by that tone but still allows you to hear every other instrument, and every wretched enunciation of a monstrously gruesome voice.
Rather than follow a potentially monotonous path, the band are also constantly changing things up as they barrel ahead, injecting pounding grooves and crazed arpeggios, along with a freakish wailing and screaming solo. The rapid-fire fretwork and maniacal (yet sharply executed) drum battery contribute to an experience that channels chaos but never careens off the rails. There’s enough technically impressive athleticism in the performance to make it stand out from the pack, but not so much as to diminish the barbarity at the music’s core. And the whole frightening escapade turns out to be catchy, too.
Wretched Fate‘s line-up consists of founders Mats Andersson (guitar) and Adrian Selmani (vocals), who started the band only in 2016, along with bassist Robin Magnusson (Incised), and drummer Samuel Karlstrand. Despite the recency of this band, they sound like they’ve been doing this kind of thing for much longer — they’d be in comfortable company with Bloodbath (and the album comes recommended not only for fans of that veteran group, but also for devotees of Entrails, Aeon, and Cannibal Corpse).
Of the track we’re bringing you today, the band tell us:
“With the song ‘Wretched Fate‘ we intended to create a sound with a straight forward approach that was also merged with some technical elements. However, we felt that we didn’t want to sacrifice the brutality that is associated with a “less is more” attitude for the sake of technical boasting. In the end we felt that the song came to represent what this band is about to a great extent, which is also why we decided to let the lyrics and the title reflect this essence with a suitable horror reference.”
Mats Andersson also mixed and produced the album, which features cover art by Skaðvaldur and a logo by Chainsaw Design. Fleshletting will be released by Redefining Darkness Records on February 22nd, and it’s available for pre-order now.
Below you’ll find our track stream along with a teaser video for the album as a whole.