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Wretched Cannibal

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01. Gold Above Me 02. Morsel 03. Calloused 04. Thin Skinned 05. L'appel du Vide 06. Cranial Infestation 07. Salt Lick 08. Cannibal 09. Wetiko 10. To The Flies 11. Engulfed In Lethargy
2014 Victory Records
Our score 7

by Daniel Marsicano
6/26/2014

Technical death metal as a genre can be quite lifeless in the wrong hands; a forceful, Pro Tools-heavy manipulation that trumps songwriting and leans on mechanical precision and overtly flashy guitars. It's great that your band can do minutes of finger tapping on the guitar, but it doesn't equate to much when the song is boring as hell. Wretched skirts those negatives with their capability at writing a coherent song to put their masterful instrumental work on display. Their fourth album, Cannibal, does not falter in this method, though the anger in the music has been bumped up a level and there's more of a hard smack to their delivery than on the last album, Son of Perdition. It isn't until five tracks in with the guitar-driven instrumental "L'appel du Vide" that Wretched takes a time out. Like Beyond The Gate, their underrated sophomore record, Cannibal is all in from the start. The short length of "Gold Above Me" is deceptive, as the opener is not meant to ease into things, but to smash skulls to bits in less than 90 seconds. This style of playing is the dominant one for much of the first half of the album. The cruel screams match up to the contentious riffs coming from Steven Funderburk and the returning Joel Moore. Any semblance of melody early on comes when either guitarist breaks into a solo frame of mind. The solos are top notch, a quality consistent with Wretched since their first album back in 2009. They break up the intensity, provide an outlet for a cool gust to placate the scorching tempos, and have an immediate "Oh this is fantastic" spin to them. Even when a few songs start to head down the "sound-alike" path, it is the lead breaks that keep the album from straying into a creative void. The album takes a far more memorable turn around the halfway point, with some snappy bass work in "Cranial Infestation" and a guitar solo to remember on "Wetiko." As with every album Wretched have produced, there is an instrumental, this time being the title track. While Son of Perdition's was split into three parts, this instrumental is a gigantic, seven-plus minute excursion that is at times awe-inspiring, and at others a forceful head banger. Though it lacks the grandiose drive of past instrumentals, the track works in the context of the vicious nature of Cannibal. Other than the two instrumentals, and a toned-down start to closer "Engulfed In Lethargy," there's little reprieve from Wretched. That works both ways for them, as Cannibal is a raging delight that should get the approval of fans of technical death metal, but lacks the distinctive attributes of an album like Son of Perdition. There's nothing that really floored me to the point where a moment to regain myself was warranted. The essence of the band is in fine shape, but there's a spark missing from a dynamics perspective. After a handful of albums, Wretched have shown that death metal can be proficient and skillfully handled without sounding like it came from the brains of a computer hard drive. Though some songs could have used more soul, the album is never lackluster in its execution. It's a steady ride all the way through, with a few instances where the only proper reaction is "Whoa." It has always felt like Wretched have flown too far under the sights of a fair amount of metal heads, and hopefully Cannibal won't suffer the same fate. Bottom Line: Cannibal isn't much of an evolution for Wretched, but the band continues to churn out quality metal, and they never fail to excite with their instrumental work.

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anonymous 7/8/2014 5:12:27 PM

This band has always been just above mediocre, and this record is more of the same.