Review by Sophie Maughan
Release date: 14 July 2014
You might have noticed that the North of England (particularly the North East) has been slaughtered in the press lately. As a fellow Geordie once removed, I must admit that hearing brainless journos spouting off comparing it to Detroit (bit over the top!) has been a bitter pill to swallow. That said, there are a few places up there that are, shall we say, less than aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Middlesbrough is one of these and it just happens to be the hometown of four piece Wraiths. And if you have ever walked the grey streets of this putrid urban cesspool, then you won’t be surprised to hear that this is a band in touch with the dark side. Their self-proclaimed brand of “Hell Metal” is an unforgiving melange of sadness and despair designed to “portray the darkest imaginings of the human conscience” and debut EP Hollows is chock full with monstrous riffs and banshee-like vocal shrieks that will peel the very enamel from your rattling teeth.
The only phrase that springs to mind on first listen to opening track ‘Godslayer’ is “Fuck me sideways! This shit is vicious!” Seven seconds in and my unsuspecting ears are immediately pummelled by a delicious, face melting cacophony of noise. We are talking dark. We are talking doomy. Imagine if you will Black Sabbath, Goatwhore and The Acacia Strain going head to head kicking the proverbial crap out of one another after a three day bender down Satan’s gaff. The unashamedly down-tuned guitars will bury their way into your skull before vocalist Rae Robinson’s blood curdling refrains of “Dark void / Swallow me whole / Drop me into the darkest hole” ring out and have you begging for an escape. Oh unholy Lucifer – may you have mercy on our collective black souls.
The ferocity does not give an inch as the relentless pound of ‘Malignation’ follows suit and we are treated (or subjected, whichever way you look at it) to some good old fashioned dissonant deathcore. Latest single ‘Gravelord’ retains that earnest brutality that has manifested itself throughout but there is an injection of fierce groove (almost reminiscent of sludge NOLA masters Down from 1:13 onwards) which not only brings a new sonic dimension to the table, it also works as a brief respite from the incoming aggression and wildfire fretwork of guitarist Daniel Johnson on highlight ‘Devoured’. It is a hellish musical journey drenched in misery and cutting blastbeats but what I really appreciate about this one is how it manages to retain that element of catchiness in terms of the riffs – I can imagine the pit opening up and the writhing mass of bodies going batshit mental as that mini breakdown kicks in at 2:40. Bloody awesome. Closer ‘ Belial’ is nothing less than a full frontal assault, with the juxtaposition of visceral howls, and the band’s crushing use of low-end percussion and instrumentation working together to produce an incredibly effective sound. I am feeling ever so melancholic and I love it.
The only criticism one might voice of this quartet’s first offering would be the niggling subject of repetition – if you’re not in the right mood, then those frequent scream / breakdown salvos might just tip you over the edge. Undoubtedly, Wraiths won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (we are talking about a niche genre here) but if you’ve got a penchant for the wretched snarl of inventive deathcore, this EP might just be for you. And I dunno about you but I’d much rather be someone’s glass of whiskey. Watch this space – for the beast walks among us.
7.5 out of 10