Another year draws to a close and here we are again, telling you about yet another superlative release from the one, the only, Holy Roar Records. For those who aren’t aware, we are paid handsomely by the label to cover their releases; I myself am writing this from an unnamed Pacific island which I have made my home, thanks to all the gold that they have bestowed upon me. Money is no object to me and I’m richer than all of you so suck it.
Nah. They don’t. And I’m not. We have dedicated a feature to this specific label because like us, they don’t believe in dull, insipid music and as such do not release any. This edition of the HR-Files will get a bit dirty, a bit rough around the edges and definitely doesn’t belong in the ‘dull’ category. Playing vibrant and vicious metal from the UK, never afraid to toy with conventional metal sounds, we present you Watchcries and Wraith.
Without breaking down every single breakdown on the record, let me simply make you aware of the diversity of heavy sounds present. You’re not going to hear rap and shoegaze on this mind, Wraith is still a metal record at heart. so put those fucking JNCOs back in the cupboard and leave the stage monopolising pedal board in there too. Not unlike label mates Employed To Serve, Watchcries have a backbone of hardcore/metalcore crossover (see what I did there?) which they play off and toy with throughout every track on the release.
While their cohorts sparkle in math-metal and grind moments, the Brighton natives slip through the cracks of the ‘core genres and come out the other side tarred in blackened sludge and, surprisingly, some absolutely thunderous grooves. “Severing Union” moves like a nameless Japanese movie monster through the streets of yet another Japanese city – imagine Young And In The Way blaring through the emergency broadcast system – and “Wild Flesh” has an off-beat, bass heavy stomp in it’s closing third that swaggers harder than your divorced uncle at his office Xmas party. Filthy.
Somewhere in among all of that groove are a handful of riffs that – and I mean this in the kindest way possible – remind me of early Soulfly/latter day Sepultura. The bounce of these choice moments turns the bleak nature of blackened hardcore into rowdy, Road House fist-fight, bottle smashing anthems, even for five seconds. A glorious five seconds at that. “Ashen” drops a fat single string groove in it’s closing moments, complete with a slurred, sensual vocal more fitting of Car Bomb than Carach Angren. Watchcries’ liberal tinkering with traditional vocal sounds doesn’t end there either. In some of the more macabre moments on the record, Nats Spada employs a soft spoken vocal, ushering in the next passage of bomb blasting, blackened misery. The breathy whispers flitter in and out of, never really prominent but always in the moments before the maelstrom.
The genre hopping destruction on Wraith careens from stabbing hardcore attack to primordial grooves and back again, via blackened blasts and bruising hardcore. Holy Roar is getting far too good at releasing music that hits heavier than the rest. That’s not to say that this is just another heavy record from the bastions of the British underground, like a sweet onion this beast has layers. Watchcries hit the sweet notes of metalcore acts like Zao in their pomp, knocking the Americans off their perch in the process. Charging with dynamic force towards bloody noses and black eyes, the blackened styling and savagery offered up on this full length debut isn’t just pleasing at face level; the vision of Holy Roar in releasing extreme music with heart and soul like this only reinforces the notion that they are the leading force in UK underground music. Now, where do I cash this giant novelty cheque guys?