WRETCHED (Black Ambience) MCD
Unfortunately, Maryland's WRETCHED belongs to the Hellhound bands that, so far, are paid less attention by a wider circle. The reason for this is beyond me. With Jeff Parsons (ex-Unorthodox/ex-Indestroy) they have an excellent guitarist in their lineup, and their heavy sound is characterised by various influences that is typical for all heavy bands from the Maryland/DC area. Well, however, fourteen years have now passed since the last album 'Center of the Universe', which was also the penultimate release from Hellhound Records in 1995. 'Black Ambience', recorded in 2004, surprised me with a few changes. First of all, it's the new lineup consisting of bassist Louis Strachan (Iron Man/ex-Life Beyond/ex-Creepshow) and vocalist Jon Blank (Wino/Rezin), who sadly died in 2009 due to a drug overdose. Again, Gus Basilika (ex-Life Beyond) plays drums as he already did on the first two albums and there is, of course, Jeff Parsons. It should come as no surprise that all musicians are veterans of the Maryland/DC scene and that their musical skills are simply impeccable.
The next changes are to be found within the songs. In comparison to the last album, 'Black Ambience' is more groovy and playful. Louis Strachan adds greater dynamic to the entire sound with his virtuoso playing while Jon Blank doesn't try to imitate former vocalist Dave Sherman (Earthride/ex-Spirit Caravan/ex-Heavy Soul). His rough and bluesy style is comparable to Sherman's previous voice and fits perfectly to Jeff Parsons' riff machinery. The opening track 'When I Was Alive' is dominated by a powerful groove, meshing dark vibes with catchy soulful melodies. 'Together We Drown' and 'Cold As You' are similarly effective, including brilliant solos from Jeff Parsons and all together they easily build up a strong and creative wall of musical power. Due to the distinctive production of Chris Koszlowski, 'Black Ambience' sounds really thick and unbelievable heavy. It would have been wonderful, if WRETCHED had recorded more songs, but you can't have it all. The best I can hope for is that WRETCHED won't vanish from the face of the earth, because that would be a loss.