The members of Wraith stand among the finest practitioners of their respective dark metal arts, brewing up a heady, mysterious concoction of speed and thrash metal, mixing it with hardcore punk and black 'n 'roll, and fermenting it to a state of brain-melting, euphoria-inducing goodness.
Undo the Chains is the band's latest full-length, and it is one of the most complete and completely habit-forming creations made within recent memory. Any unpretentious thrash metal fan would be hard-pressed to find a track on this album that doesn't euphorically pummel eardrums and leave their speakers smoldering at high volume.
Upfront, it's impossible to miss the production work of CJ Rayson. As on previous Wraith recordings, the sonics on Undo the Chains are remarkable in relation to similar releases, featuring a comparatively hefty low-end and carefully calculated sonic murk. The album is cloaked in otherworldly shadows that make every moment feel like the exploration of an ancient crypt, and it perfectly accents the band's songwriting. Spin Undo the Chains alongside similar releases and you'll recognize the combination of Wraith's playing and Rayson's production in a moment.
Musically, many of Undo the Chains' best entries open up an artery of sonic speed and let it blast, from the aptly named opening track "Dominator" to the closers "Victims for the Sword" and "Terminate." The delivery of these songs remains consistently clean throughout, and it's worth celebrating just how well the band pairs their audio savagery with technical precision. Deftly swinging from full-speed assaults into carefully planned bridges and breakdowns, Wraith maintains a stunning level of energy and excitement without ever letting their music slip into redundancy.
This effort is aided by a handful of tracks that ease off the accelerator or move into nearby creative lanes, like the freewheeling, rock 'n' roll injection of "Mistress of the Void" or the punk attitude of "Born to Die." One particularly gratifying entry arrives just past the midpoint with the stoic, marching pace of "Time Wins." As invigorating as Wraith's high-velocity offerings are, the grim, almost-apocalyptic energy of "Time Wins" rivals any of its speedier counterparts for sheer listening enjoyment. So much so that it's easy to wish for an extra serving of it elsewhere on the album.
But any grumblings from this listener amount to little more than personal greed and the desire for an endless pile of new Wraith tracks to feast on. For now, we'll just have to content ourselves with a faultless full-length album.
Buy Undo the Chains on Bandcamp
Listen to Wraith and related artists in my epic Thrash Metal / Speed Metal From The Depths playlist on Spotify