Formed by two former members of Welsh metal outfit BOYS WITH X-RAY EYES, and including a handpicked selection of musicians from the British metalcore scene, THE DEAD WRETCHED more than pack a punch on their debut album ‘Anchors Down’. Like many bands, this five-piece vow to reimagine the current musical climate, revive the heavy nature of Welsh music, and in their own words: “Take the bull by the horns”.
‘Anchors Down’ does indeed take the metaphorical bull by more than just its horns, however suggesting that the ten track LP is a backward step into straightforward metalcore would be entirely unrealistic. There are elements on display which carry forward themes from the band member’s former outings, with ‘Hammer Death’ consisting of a continuous onslaught of chugging guitars and drum blasts with raucous vocals interchanging from brutal screams to off-tune yells which just about garner the “clean” moniker. Fortunately both the vocals and the strong structures mostly steer clear of tipping over into full clean vocals which helps to avoid THE DEAD WRETCHED becoming a simple clone of the vast majority of metalcore bands out there. Even when the band does veer off-path (‘Hedron Collides’ – presumably a pun based on the differently spelled Hadron Collider -, ‘Hell out of Dodge’), the more melodic moments maintain the rough edge that characterises the record.
On first listen it is perhaps too easy to pigeonhole ‘Anchors Down’ as yet another metalcore release and simply put, as a background record there may be little to elevate this record. The afore mentioned screams and metal technicality take the forefront of the record, and at times manage to highlight the true ingenuity of the band’s sound. Take a moment to sink your teeth into ‘Anchors Down’ and the clever moments shine through; be it the subtle switch in guitar tones throughout the standout ‘Anchors’ (a track which references some of UNDEROATH’s more defining moments), or the uncontrollable chop and change in sound during the verses on ‘Aces and 8’s’.
‘Anchors Down’ is overflowing with these subtleties and overarching themes that culminate in considerable originality, while simultaneously masquerading as homage to heavier times in Welsh music history. Technicality and brutality sit side by side in uncompromised equality, THE DEAD WRETCHED have deliberately taken one step back and two steps forward, and the outcome is close to perfect.