Wretch – Wretch (Bad Omen Records, 26 August 2016)
From the instant I first heard 2008’s Conqueror, I’ve been a huge fan of Indianan doom titans The Gates of Slumber. Certainly one of the greatest highlights of running this website was getting the opportunity to chat with that group’s founder, guitarist and vocalist Karl Simon, back in 2013 — and then a few days later actually meeting him and bassist Jason McCash in person before their incredible performance at the Winter’s Wake festival in Pittsburgh. Tragically, the following year would see the loss of iconic bassist McCash, and a grieving Simon decided to put the band permanently on hold.
Since that time, though, he seems to have felt the need to continue expressing himself musically, and with the help of bassist Bryce Clarke and drummer Chris Gordon (who has done previous tours of duty with both TGoS and fellow Indianapolitans Devil to Pay) formed a new trio named for his previous band’s final album, 2011’s The Wretch. By last summer this new group had put together an album’s worth of material and released their self-titled debut, which happened to be one of the best things I heard last year. And now I’d like to share that record with all of you,
in advance of Wretch making an appearance at The Maryland Doom Fest later this week (along with a handful of other shows — scroll down to the comments section for more details) …
UPDATE 21 June 2017: all Wretch shows that were scheduled for this week have been cancelled.
Fans of Karl‘s old-school playing style and his strongly emotional downtrodden-and-angry singing will not be disappointed with this new material: “It is a new beginning,” he states, “but I am what I am. I don’t set out to write a style of music, this is what happens when I pick up a guitar.”
Describing the making of this album as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” the guitarist goes on to say, “[a]ll of the songs on this record are about [Jason], about me, about our drug use and his death. … I hope that people are touched by the record – I am often on the verge of tears while playing.” The first part of that especially seems to be true in opening track “Running out of Days,” which is filled with blatant references to the brevity of all of our lives, while the latter part can totally be felt in the gloomy harmonies of the short, mellow instrumental “Grey Cast Mourning”.
In contrast, while one might expect a song called “Rest in Peace” to be fairly conceptually straightforward, this track — certainly featuring some of the record’s more memorable riffs and and catchier choruses — could be interpreted in numerous ways besides the most obvious, but the general vibe sounds most like the vocalist expressing his curmudgeonly side, just wanting to be left the hell alone.
Other highlights include a bongwater-soaked rendition of (Judas Priest)’s “Winter” done in an old-Sabbathy psychedelic blues style, which then runs right into “Icebound,” with ear-candy riffs and melodies that could easily peg the track as a sequel to Conqueror‘s “Ice Worm”; and the bass-heavy album closer “Drown” that just perfectly encapsulates the word as well as the whole idea of “doom.”
You can get your hands on the Wretch album right here.
* * * * * * *