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Totally, Criminally Underrated - 95%

corviderrant, May 14th, 2009

Wow, I remember this band, and most favorably too. I remember how talented, skilled, and diverse they were as musicians, which was probably exactly what worked against them in the end, the fact they were not clones of anybody else out there. They had a unique and distinctive sound, and while it may have held them back ultimately, it was the listener's loss that that happened, not theirs. Wrathchild America were original, and you can't say that about just any band.

Brad Divens' crashing, clanking bass tone anchors the guitars loudly, thanks to Alex Perialas' sterling production job, and his vocals come off as more down to earth and accessible than anything else. His raspy, drawling sneer fits the music exceptionally well and his lyrics are well-written, too. The rest of the band are right there with him, no dead weight here. Shannon Larkin in particular stands out as a criminally lost drum talent with his eccentric drumming approach, and both Terry Carter and Jay Abbene let rip with riffs, solos, and fills everywhere with bluesy feeling taking precedence over technical skill, though they certainly don't lack the latter. While the songs display a dazzling array of influences musically, they never once seem out of place or gratuitous; it all adds up to a remarkably strong and cohesive whole. Everything from reggae to blues to hard rock, thrash metal, you name it, they pull it off well and easily, not sweating it once from the sound of it.

Song wise, "3-D Man" leads the charge with aggressive up tempo drumming and a choppy riff riding over that snarling bass guitar, and explodes into a strong album opener, with "Spy" displaying an incredibly cool walking bass line and a variety of guitar tones and styles on display. "Draintime" I actually like a lot as well, with its trippy opening and crunchy main riffs, and "Gentleman Death" has one of the best choruses on the album, if not the best one period, with a very menacing half time feel. When WA let rip into thrash mode, they do it well and with conviction, going straight for the jugular with a vengeance as Shannon steers the band unerringly on their course. A great drummer is the key to any band being elevated to high status, and Shannon being as good as he was/is makes their being virtually ignored by American fans all the more upsetting in the end. Look to "What's Your Pleasure?" in particular for that aspect of them, as it is probably the most vicious song on the album musically. "Prego" lives up to its title with an amazing array of musical styles crammed end to end for a very amusing end result. I don't think it was meant to be entirely serious, so I don't take it as such.

This whole album is a roller coaster ride in the best sense of the phrase in that it has ups and downs, hills and valleys, with dynamics to spare, and it is a damned crying shame that this band didn't make it any bigger than they did. But as mentioned, their diverse approach ended up being to their detriment, as most fans must not have known what to make of them. Their not being clones of any of the Big Four worked against them, sadly. If nothing else, this is awesome ADD listening! Seriously, though...this is very much worth hunting down and adding to the collection whether in hard copy or hard drive, it's just that good.