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Wretched Soul > The Ghost Road > Reviews
Wretched Soul - The Ghost Road

New Wave of British Melodic Death Metal - 82%

BloodIronBeer, November 26th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, UKEM Records

Wretched Soul's The Ghost Road is an interesting convergence of an often, but not always, melodic form of death metal, thrash, old school power metal, and speed metal, with vocals that are anywhere from a reverb-ladden Ozzy, to NWOBHM, to thrash screams and death growls, with quite a few moments of something in between. The songs are mostly mid-paced to fairly fast, but don't cover a huge range of tempi. There's the occasional blast beat, but of the genres mentioned, the drums seem to be most related to thrash, playing the standard fast-ish fair, with typical fills. The production is fairly raw; I think, going for a decidedly 80's feel – and succeeding. The ever-changing vocal style always rides somewhere in a good spot in the mix and regardless of harsh or soaring, are always filled to the brim with passion.

I get a real kick out of the juxtaposition of styles, it can be Angel Witch one moment, and Vader the next. The Silent God starts out sounding like a mix of old Jag Panzer and NWOBHM, and then goes into a melodic death metal riff, while maintaining the NWOBHM feel in the vocals. We Made the Gods sounds a bit like late-era Bathory and melodic death metal. Warwolf starts out with blistering thrash/speed metal and harsh screams accompanying, and breaks down into a old school speed/power metal riff in the middle.

Riffs are a funny thing. Because on their own, sometimes they can't fit a subgenre. You put a blastbeat over a riff, it's death metal, but if you put a skank beat over the same riff, it becomes thrash. Some of these riffs could be melodic black metal with the right production, drums, and vocals, but they can sound more like Viking metal or just old school heavy metal as they are. The changing of drum beats, and vocal styles really makes the riffs kind of amorphous in this way.

I'm not sure this is to blame for the riffs on their own sounding a bit generic. It doesn't help that the songs all tend to be in a similar key and register. I feel like a lot of riffs move through the same notes in a similar pattern. Whether intentional or not, the vocal styles and drums do go a long way to break it up and distract from the similar sounding riffs.

After reading this band labeled as “thrash/death”, the overwhelmingly melodic presence of the guitar, and vocals that are clean as often as harsh, I was pretty surprised upon first listen to this band. I'm gonna call this NWOBMDM; New Wave of British Melodic Death Metal.

So, my gripes are the relative sameness in the riffs, and the closing title track which I feel is bloated, over stays it's welcome, and really lacks the charm of the rest – and it always seems especially bad when the title track (and closing track) is not up to snuff.

The highlights are definitely The Silent God - this song is an absolute anthem - but I will also say the vocals as a whole, which anchor this album. It's kind of crazy how many different styles one guy goes through, and does a great job with each one.

So, taken individually, there are things here that are generic, but the mixture thereof is pretty unique, it's got loads of charm and the vocals are stellar. I really appreciate the moments of ballsy, real, old school power metal, because that's something I'm always on the hunt for. It's a damn fine album, and it bears a lot of potential for this band to be truly great - I eagerly await their next release.