The Wretched End - Inroads
Nocturnal Art Productions
9 songs (39:22)
Release year: 2012
Nocturnal Art Productions
Reviewed by Goat

It says quite a lot for the advancement of extreme metal that Zyklon are no longer the automatic touchstone that they once were for this style of razor-sharp death/thrash. The Norwegians have passed into legend, hugely influential in their way but failing to hit the superstar heights of the band I'd argue have taken their place, Behemoth. And although Behemoth's more explicitly occult raging is markedly different from Zyklon's apocalyptic dread, that people tend to reference the Poles rather than Samoth's other band-that-is-not-Emperor when discussing The Wretched End makes me feel old.

For The Wretched End are Zyklon in all but name and lineup, ex-Emperor guitarist Samoth teaming up with Dark Funeral drummer Nils Fjellstrom and Scum's Cosmo on bass, guitar and vocals to create a power trio dominated by Samoth's guitar and more than open to a prog-tinged technicality. It's this that fuels the otherwise fairly standard headbanging fare and propels it into higher leagues, the twisty-turny nature of songs keeping you guessing, and some nice atmospheric touches adding a dash of darkness that matches that ominous cover art. Plus, of course, guitar pyrotechnics are present and correct, giving songs generous chunks of wild soloing that will please any metalhead worth his or her salt.

It's rare these days that death/thrash gets my fists pumping quite as much as it used to - the genre has died something of a slow death under threat from melodeath and pure thrash rivals. I found myself enjoying Inroads a great deal, however, the songs well-written, varied and entertaining, keeping head banging and mind engaged. It's hard not to feel a little chill down your spine when an air-raid siren rings out in Deathtopian Society before a whirlwind of Gojira-esque groove riffing leads you into the atmospheric centrepiece of the song, chanted vocals contrasting well with the snarls. The slow build-up of Death By Nature is something like modern Satyricon mixed with Ministry, backing chugging riffs the base atop which the band storm your ears.

As Cold Iron Soul proves, The Wretched End have an ear for a hook, and are not afraid to make their dystopian vision catchy - you'll have that little descending motif stuck in your head for a long time after. Good on them, extreme metal suffers for its impenetrability, and bands that preach the end-time message to more than the usual choir are just as welcome as the most underground and gnarled. So when I say that The Haunting Ground reminded me of a harder, nastier The Haunted, don't roll your eyes and whine about Samoth selling out, celebrate it as a respected yet underrated metal musician proving his skills are more broad and varied than being that other bloke from Emperor who's not Ihsahn. As the final track here states, the man's reclaimed his throne as of old with his post-Emperor projects, even if artistically their vision is less broad and forward-thinking than his former bandmate's.

Killing Songs :
Tyrant Of The Mountain, Deathtopian Society, Death By Nature, Cold Iron Soul, Fear Propaganda
Goat quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by The Wretched End that we have reviewed:
The Wretched End - Ominous reviewed by Jake and quoted 85 / 100
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