Winston Salem, NC based Wrath & Rapture released their debut self-titled album earlier this year and it’s a difficult album to review, to say the least. On the one hand, these guys know their instruments up and down and their performances are impeccable. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the feel yet to offer a jaw-dropping experience. It’s a bit hard to explain, but here we go.
The album starts off with ‘The Black Gate Opens’, which showcases grand synths and driving guitar chugging that is reminiscent of older Dream Theater (a la Awake), all while changing tempos effortlessly. This opener shows that the production on the album is truly wonderful as each instrument, while not necessarily being in-your-face, is present in the grand scheme of things. The opener bleeds perfectly into the next track, ‘The Dirge of Fallen Warriors’, which starts off with some hauntingly beautiful synth melodies overlaid with extreme guitar tones. The vocals come in with thick growls and piercing shrieks while the song shifts from solid footing to progressive runs and heavy chording that keep you on your ‘listening’ toes.
Like I just wrote, the production is wonderful making it a very easy album to listen to. There are no frequencies that pierce the ear and no muddiness in the low end. The other joy in listening to this album is when the band changes tones completely, such as in ‘Disembodiment’, the tones don’t sound false. When they start playing progressive fusion jazz, they are using actual jazz tones instead of trying to make metal tones fit their sound. As great as these tones are, the changes leave something to be desired. It feels like most of the time, these changes are there just to be there. There is no real emotion or sense in these changes. In a way, it almost feels like Wrath & Rapture are trying to show off, which judging by their skill, they don’t need to do: I’m already impressed.
Wrath & Rapture include a cover of ‘Cold’ by At The Gates as the closer to their album. It’s an interesting cover as Wrath & Rapture definitely make it their own. There are interesting guitar harmonizations and the addition of the keys add a symphonic flavor to the piece. Being a huge fan of the original, however, I feel that Wrath & Rapture lost some of the ‘sledgehammer-to-the-face’ feeling that the original had.
Overall, Wrath & Rapture have put out a debut that lands them solidly on my ‘bands to watch’ list. Technically, they have a 5 out of 5 album. However, the lack of feel and the confusing, almost misguided style changes would rank as a 2 out of 5 album. Together, I’ll split the difference and hope that with their sophomore release, Wrath & Rapture find a way to make everything work together.
3.5 out of 5 skulls
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