Author: T.K. White
Band: The Wretched End
Album: In These Woods, From These Mountains
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Label: Indie Recordings
The Wretched End is sort of a supergroup headed by Samoth of Emperor and features Cosmo of Windir and Nils Fjellstrom of Dark Funeral. The Wretched End started off a rather generic blackened thrash band and progressed towards blackened death metal with each release. In These Woods, From These Mountains, is certainly following along that track, for better or worse. Truthfully, I did not find the bands two previous full-lengths very exciting at all. Forgettable riffs with vocals that serve little to no purpose and the drumming barely draws attention to itself. Sadly, this record is no different.
As I listened through the record, I found myself just waiting for the songs to end and just get on to the next one so I could be finished with the record. The first track, Dead Icons, is very much like that. The only thing that is memorable is the odd growling/chanting of “Dead Icons”—which if you think about is incredibly odd; I mean, are painting and portraits of symbolic figures dead? Are the figures themselves dead? What does “Dead Icon” even mean? What’s even more perplexing is why the band follows the same musical formula so strictly. Not only does Primordial Freedom have an absolutely awful music video, it’s just boring riffs and forgettable drumming with only memorable moment being the chanting (once again) of “Freedom”.
Upon first listen, the best (traditional metal) song on the record was Old Norwegian Soul and even it wasn’t that interesting; Old…Soul sounded like mid-era Emperor with the keyboard flourish and the ominous foreboding tone, but at the same time, it sounds incredibly tired—like the band is really phoning it in and trying to appeal to a specific audience without being completely genuine. I also found myself not hating Generic Drone, but the more I listened to it, the more I found it sounded more like the last three or four Soilwork records than anything else. Even vocally, it sounded like Speed’s ritualistic chanting he does during bridges. However, the highlight of the record is the album closer Dewey Fields. This is a cover of the Bel Canto song and done in a very interesting fashion; Dewey Fields, instrumentally, sounds like a Summoning song, which is pretty enjoyable, and vocally it is quite pretty. Cosmo has quite a nice clean voice and it commands the song very well with his emotional timbre and effortless transitions from his chest voice to a dainty, airy falsetto very similar to Einar Solberg of Leprous. If the entire record were like this, it’d be a beautiful, ethereal record.
This album is something I really expected a lot more out of. I mean, given the caliber of the musicians the band is made up of, the record should be a blackened masterpiece, instead it’s a burnt premade sugar cookie. There is really no substance to this record. At all. The more I listened, the more I tried to pinpoint the sound that had the most similarity, overall. Finally, it dawned on me—bear with me—it sounds like an incredibly watered-down version of Behemoth’s The Satanist. Now, that may sound like a really, really far stretch, but if you remember all the hype that surrounded the album and I admit to getting on that train—yet, the more I listened to the album, the less it held up. It was a powerful record on the surface, but underneath that, I found nothing to make me want to come back and listen to it, aside from the hype that surrounded it. This record should be a massive punch in the gut like The Satanist, but it just falls flat. Admittedly, Behemoth’s efforts were much stronger than The Wretched End, but nonetheless, I find myself incredibly bored with this record.