I am only casually familiar with Wretched‘s previous release, Son of Perdition, which struck me as a more technical, less core-ish Carnifex, and belonging to that sort of ilk that has all the right ingredients but somehow didn’t manage to make it stick. With their fourth full-length offering, Cannibal, Wretched has stepped up the game and delivered a more memorable album of melodic and technical death metal.

“Gold Above Me” serves as an intro featuring Eastern-tinged technical riffs and drumming straight out of the Nile/Behemoth playbook. The first proper track, “Morsel,” delivers Wretched‘s familiar sound, although musically it is very refined. There is a heavy Gorod vibe in the melodic sensibility of the track, and also a death/thrash element that calls to mind The Absence or Black Dahlia Murder.

Like all good tech-death bands, Wretched knows when to slow down. For example, the first half of “Thin Skinned” reigns in the speed, then continues with perfectly rendered dual guitar harmonies reminiscent of the best work of Vital Remains.

“Cranial Infestation,” one of my favorite tracks, strikes an absolutely infectious Gorod-like groove, and again features a very melodic bridge section. Instrumental “Cannibal” is a true stand-out: a mammoth, 7-and-a-half-minute groove-laden melodic powerhouse, with the free-flowing song structure of Iron Thrones coupled with the mind-bending but melodic riffs of Anata.

Despite the quality present on Cannibal, it’s an unfortunate fact that many other bands have been doing this exact thing as well or better for some time; Gorod in particular for damn near a decade now. Wretched isn’t bringing much new to the table, but it’s refreshing to hear technical songs that have a healthy sense of melody, and make creative choices that work. Along with Soreption, this release has helped renew my faith and interest in technical death metal. This is an album of undeniable quality, but time will tell the extent and longevity of its impact.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J. D. Anderson
June 24th, 2014


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