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Wrathrone - Reflections of Torment - 90%

Edmund Sackbauer, June 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Satanath Records (Limited edition)

Wrathrone play Old School Death Metal (OSDM). Fans know what that means: Death Metal with a chainsaw running through the amps and a bass sandpapering the ears of the listener. While the full in force HM2 pedal made me initially think of a Swedish band Wrathrone are from Laitila/Finland.

Subject of this review is their second full length album following up on “Born Beneath” only two years after that one saw the light of day. While their first effort has been released by Inverse Records they joined the roster of Satanath Records to bring out “Reflections of Torment”. As I am not familiar with “Born Beneath” I am not able to comment on any progression made during these two years but have to judge this album all on its own.

Although the first track “Throne” starts with some atmospheric and acoustic sounds it does not take too long until the musical onslaught gets on its way. The two guitarists Vili Mäkinen and Lauri Holm have massively down-tuned their instruments to provide that classic sound that will make fans of Swedish OSDM feel right at home. Together with the rhythm section consisting of bassist P. Wärri and drummer Mikael Ruoho they have forged a massive, groove laden album that brings to mind some of the famous work by cult heroes like Grave and Entombed. While all riffs can be found in the textbook of Swedish Death Metal they are put together in a way to feel coherent and diversified at the same time. The combination of the atmospheric main themes and short lead melodies played at the same time often provides for great atmosphere.

In my amateurish opinion Mikael is a fantastic drummer working with various rhythm and tempo changes without hurting the flow of the songs. There are some moments where it seems as if his fills are slightly delayed creating chaotic momentum for a few seconds just to drop back to the stoic and stomping main beat of the verse again. Another positive aspect is that the bass is audible and Wärri gets some short moments to shine as well. What makes this album a winner is the great variation of faster songs and slower ones. The chronological order of the tracks is chosen in a way to keep the attention of the audience over the whole 47 minutes.

Once in a while Wrathrone leave their comfort zone dipping their toes into other genres like Melodic Death Metal before stepping back to their Old School trademark sounds. While the music can get a bit more technical in a few sections as well consistent songwriting seems to be the main focus for the band and follows the classic verse-chorus structure for major parts of the album.

The filthy production is fitting the music like a glove causing a rotten overall atmosphere. If I had to express any complains it would be the fact that the vocals seem to be a bit buried in the mix. As Matti’s growling is pretty low pitched it is not easy to understand what the lyrics are about. On the other hand we are talking about very traditional Death Metal so one just needs to read song titles like “Failing Flesh, Enduring Spirit” to have an idea what they are all about. Adding to that Old School feeling is the cover artwork. As I am a sucker for black-white covers in combination with that kind of OSDM this is another plus in my books. Wrathrone did not try to be innovative in any way on “Reflections of Torment” but proudly wear their influences on their sleeves.

“Reflections of Torment” got everything I am searching for in that genre: The massive mid-range buzz, burly throbbing bass, the bellowed vocals and the perfect balance of catchy gallops, heavy blasts and thick monster grooves. Anyone who cannot get enough OSDM of the Stockholm school should give Wrathrone a try. Chances are good that you will end up adding “Reflections of Torment” to your collection.