Aug 092010

Just when we were beginning to think it was a law that all metal bands from North Carolina south to the Florida border had to sound like Mastodon or Baroness, we discovered Wretched and their new album Beyond the Gate (with that very cool Dan Seagrave album cover). Not that we have anything against Mastodon or Baroness. In fact, we’re fans. But Wretched ain’t cut from that cloth, not by a long shot.

Instead, in their new album on Victory Records, North Carolina’s Wretched are wearing the mantle of melodic, technical death metal with some interesting progressive threads woven into the fabric. Think about bands like The Faceless, Veil of Maya, and Black Dahlia Murder, and you’ll start to get close to Wretched’s musical territory. But there are also some big surprises in store.

Seven of the album’s 11 songs are fast-paced and feature shuddering rhythms with jolting staccato bass lines and weaponlike drumming, intricate math-metal riffs, and fire-breathing guitar leads and solos. The vocals are predominantly mid-range growlers, but they occasionally drop lower or vault higher into cutting shrieks.

But those seven songs aren’t simply exhibits in a case of “let me prove how fast I can play.” They’re actual songs, with structure and melody, that happen to be executed with a lot of fancy fretwork and blazing double-kicks. Wretched also spices up a few of those songs with some attention-grabbing surprises, like the brief extract from a Cuban folk song at the end of “Birthing Sloth” or the cello-and-guitar outro at the conclusion of “The Talisman”.

But there are four songs left to be discussed. They’re all instrumentals, and they’re not at all what you would expect from the musical style of the other seven.  (more after the jump, including a sample track and more examples of Dan Seagrave’s eye-catching album covers . . .) Continue reading »