Wretched Soul – “The Ghost Road” – Review

Those who know me will know I’m a huge Wretched Soul fan and have been for many years now and knowing them all personally it’s extremely difficult to write an unbiased review of “The Ghost Road” and still keep my integrity. I’m going to do my best though!

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When Wretched Soul’s debut album “Veronica” was [finally] released we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. Those who remember, will know the release was a year or more after it was completed, but when we finally got it and played it for the first time it was more than we could ever have expected. Those who have seen Wretched Soul play live will agree they put everything into their performance and “Veronica” simply screamed they had done so with the recording, production, artwork, [hell] everything on the album. And I know lots of people didn’t remove it from their car for an absolute age, myself included.

So what about “The Ghost Road”?

We know it was in the production stages in August 2015 and in August 2016 we knew it was almost ready for release. We’ve been seeing them blast songs from it in their live set since then and we were treated to an advance hearing of the immense track “War Wolf” from UK Extreme Metal with whom Wretched Soul are currently signed to. But the huge question we’re all asking is, “When is the damn album going to be released?”

Fear not. We now know it’s December 2nd 2016. At the time of writing that’s six weeks exactly.

Now that’s cleared up, what about the album?

I heard someone recently say that they didn’t think Wretched Soul could improve on the success that was “Veronica”, but once they received a copy of the album they were pretty much dumbfounded with it. This person will remain anonymous but they are a huge voice in the Heavy Metal World. I then had an online conversation with them as I’ve actually been in possession of “The Ghost Road” for about 10 months now as I was entrusted with a link to listen to it whilst in hospital early December 2015 and said person was like, “How the fuck did you keep that a secret?” My response was simply, “I made a promise.”

As with said person, I too, was dumbfounded and amazed when I first heard “The Ghost Road” and whilst writing I am listening to it again and again as it is, quite simply, one of the best albums you will hear this year. And I can guarantee it won’t be out of your car for another age.

Wretched Soul have proven that they have what it takes to become a band to take on more than just the Heavy Metal Underground with this album. As with “Veronica” it was recorded and produced by Chris Tsangerides (Judas Priest’s “Painkiller”, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, Exodus etc). It’s mastered by Dan Swano (Opeth, Dissection, Katatonia etc) and the cover art is by Dan Goldsworthy (Accept, Hell, Sylosis etc).

They’ve certainly pulled in the big guns to make “The Ghost Road” an amazing follow up to “Veronica” and from start to finish you will be more than satisfied with the wait…

Opening with “Necromancer” you’re hit with a sledgehammer to the face followed swiftly by a superb vocal intro from Christopher Simmons and, when the song starts in full, there is an almighty scream that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

It’s clear from the start that Mr Simmons has done a hell of a lot of vocal training since “Veronica” and throughout the album he keeps treating you to perfect nuggets of death screams and growls but the most satisfying thing for me is when he sings, he SINGS! Chris’s vocal range is something to be admired.

“War Wolf” follows, and we all know this is a total neck breaker. Speed and death with the guitars working out like an obsessive fitness fanatic. There’s a slight slow down mid tune with a solo but you’re soon back to full speed and getting that adrenaline flowing quicker than a politician reneging on a promise.

A slightly slower “The Silent God” follows into “The Great Destroyer” which is a classic chugging number.

“Bury The Heretic” has an acoustic intro but soon goes straight into a head on collision of drums, guitars and bass exploding into what is sure to be a listener’s favourite. Ending with a bass outro, “Bury The Heretic” is well executed from start to finish and is certainly a crowd pleaser at gigs already.

If at this point in the album you’re not thinking, “This has got to be the best album this year,” then “I Am The Thunderer” should give you the kick up the arse to make your mind up. It has a chugging start that melds into solid thrash with a somewhat epic ending.

“We Made The Gods” is the complete opposite. By that I don’t mean it’s shit – it starts off fairly slowly, then gathers pace, finishing as a spectacle of pounding and screaming awesomeness.

“The Ghost Road” is everything and more a title track ought to be. It symbolises everything the band has put into the album. The cliched blood, sweat and tears come out here. They’ve given it their all. And to end the album with such an intense track it’s easy to see why they used this. I can’t really explain how bloody good it is. You’ll just have to take my word for it. And that of said person I spoke of earlier!

I said at the start I’d do my best to write an unbiased review. Believe me it’s been difficult and taken several hours to make sure of it. So how do I summarise? I asked if you remembered the sigh of relief when “Veronica” was released. Well, you can sigh that relief now. It’ll give you more energy to enjoy “The Ghost Road” when it lands on your doorstep.

One final thing to say. Please don’t leave us waiting too long for album 3 lads!

You can watch and hear Wretched Soul playing some songs from “The Ghost Road” below.

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