WRETCH – The Hunt (Album Review)

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It appears that Wretch is a popular band name in the US. We have Wretch from Indianapolis, who purvey doom metal and Wretch from South Carolina who give us goth/black metal.

However, we are to concentrate today on Wretch from Cleveland, Ohio, who specialize in power metal, which I must say I prefer.

The band formed in 1984 and the Hunt, which is out February 24 on Pure Steel Records, is their third full-length album although they have recorded numerous demos and the odd EP.  This is far more output than the other Wretches, which makes them number one in my book.

The album does, I feel, reflect the city of their origin in that it has a very industrial hard-edged sound and, if I had to give it a one-word review, the word I would use is ‘serious’.

This is no party album and I would be reluctant to book the band for any kind of celebration.

As Wretch have been around for so long, there have obviously been several lineup changes but I have counted a hefty 18 previous members and (at the moment) the band consists of Nick Giannakos (lead and rhythm guitar), Michael “Mjolnir” Stephenson (lead and rhythm guitar), Tim Frederick (bass), Jeff Curenton (drums) and the most recent incumbent of the lead vocalist position, Juan Ricardo.

Juan Ricardo has been compared, in promotional information, to Bruce Dickinson in style but, unfortunately, he cannot reach those heady heights quite yet. He lacks the power and depth of the Iron Maiden legend and has plenty of vibrato going on.   I can see the where the comparison has come from.

Ricardo does show what he can do on tracks such as “The Final Stand”, but then is found wanting if a track does not suit his range, as on “Throne Of Poseidon”.

There is plenty of variety on The Hunt which I wasn’t expecting and they have a couple of acoustic interludes, “Twilight’s End” and “Fortune’s Fool”, which are welcome if you fancy a breather.

Wretch are at their best on “Straight to Hell”, a fast romp of a song where Ricardo is comfortable, the drums are punchy and the riffs are sustained. There are a couple of decent solos too, which aren’t always present on the album.

The album finishes with a 6’ 30” acoustic song, “She Waits”, which exemplifies their serious approach to this record. It’s furrowed brows in concentration all round I reckon.

Overall, the feel of The Hunt is one of power metal without the smooth edges and pure, soaring vocals. It has, however, a lot of variety crammed in and is an enjoyable, if serious, experience.

BUY: WRETCH

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