It’s not easy to write an introduction for British rockers Wraith. I’ve been searching the net high and low to find a complete introduction of the band but failed. So I’ll just write what little I could find. Turns out that this band started all the way back in 1987, but also split up in 1998. Also, the band has until now released five albums (Danger Calling – 1992, Riot – 1993, Schizophrenia – 1996 and Evolution – 2006) and one E.P. (Naked Aggression, 1989). However, the band reunited back in 2006, recorded an album and toured a bit but after a few years, the band was laid to rest once again and this time it was final – or so everybody thought. Because in the year of 2017, Wraith are back for the third time – and this time they were certain to make it last. However, this time it looks like guitarist Gregg Russell is the only remaining original member and the band now is a four-piece instead of a five dito. On for the ride this time, Gregg brought singer Ryan Coggin, guitarist Dieter Schänzer, bassist Kim Nielsen and drummer Jay Graham, so today’s Wraith are pretty much a new band with an old name. And that’s that so let’s get down to bizniss and see what these guys are made of, shall we?
They open the album with “Lifeline”, a hard and heavy sleazy heavy metal tune with a main melody that reminds me strongly of Testament. However, this is not a thrash tune by any means, the music is more dirty sleaze rock mixed with metal – and I might say, it’s a damn good one. “Dream Stealer” comes along with chugging guitars, heavy drums and I would describe it as Dokken and Warrant get together and decides to go metal. It’s rough and ballsy but with a refrain that goes for the throat – again, damn good. Next up – “Into the Fire”. Think Ratt meets Testament down at the Rainbow on Sunset Strip for beers and pizza. It has a memorable main melody, some really heavy riffing and a sticky refrain – and again, this is when heavy metal meets arena rock. Great stuff! “Under The Hammer” comes with a verse that borders to a ballad – all dark and moody, but the chorus is hard rock with a heavy groove and a nice chunk of metal. This is where NWOBHM meets the Sunset Strip in 1989 – awesome! “Leaving Me Again” however, is a real ballad – a power ballad, actually, taken right out of 1991. That said, it’s still pretty heavy with a dark atmosphere and an amazingly catchy chorus – bloody brilliant.
“No Respect” is a real belter, a stellar heavy metal track with a sleazy groove and equally influenced by early 90’s American arena rock. It contains some bad-ass metal riffing combined with a fantastic melody and an addictive chorus – killer! “Invasion” starts out with a “Kick Start My Heart” (Mötley Crüe) / “Bad Motor Scooter” (Montrose) guitar roar, continues with an Iron Maiden-like lick which goes into some metal guitar chugging. Then it goes into sleaze rock territory in the vein of Ratt but also sports a melody that reminds me of Testament. It’s a catchy tune but the verses are better than the chorus. It’s a good song, but could have had a better refrain. The title track is just a spoken word intro that goes right into “Human Hater”, a fast and aggressive metal stomper that sounds like a mix of Ratt, Dokken and the debut Icon album combined with some Judas Priest and early NWOBHM stuff. It’s not radio-friendly by any means but it’s still very memorable. What a great tune. The closing track “Hunted” has “bonus track” in parenthesis for some weird reason. With only nine other tracks, there’s really no reason for that. Especially as the tune is really good. It starts out with some fast, chugging metal riffing but the rest of the song is a bona fide arena rocker with its roots in the early 90’s, still with a foundation of metal, raw and heavy. A killer closer.
With this album, I had no idea what to expect but I must I am pleasantly surprised. The quality of the songs are really high and they do break out of the same old, same old by sporting influences from both traditional heavy metal and American 80’s and 90’s arena rock / sleaze equally and really making it work splendidly. Also, it gives them an identity in genres where that is very much needed. That said, I have no idea how Wraith sounded back in the 80’s / 90’s, but I have my suspicions – especially by the how the band looked back then. But that was then and this is now and in 2017, Wraith is a damn good hard rock / metal band that deserves some recognition. Which makes it kind of strange that the band hasn’t got a promo video to market this record with – not even a lyric one. Also, it’s hard to find some real info online about the band – a home page anyone? It’s a shame because with some tougher marketing, I think this band’s got a big chance to gain a pretty big following. Well, this album is really good and I highly recommend it to hard rock and metal fans out there. I just don’t know in which category I should put them – hard rock or metal.
2. Dream Steeler
3. Into The Fire
4. Under The Hammer
5. Leaving Me Again
6. No Respect
9. Human Hater
10. Hunted (Bonus Track)