By Gruesome Greg
The Wretch sees The Gates Of Slumber move away from their Conan crusades to something slower, harsher and more personal, as their Saint Vitus influences come to the forefront. (At least two of them have the Vitus logo tattooed on their arms—not sure about the new drummer…)
The band announces their doom resurgence right off the bat with “Bastards Born,” a tune that screams Saint Vitus with a wailing Dave Chandler-style solo. “The Scourge ov Drunkeness” has the same galloping rhythm as found on previous albums, but it’s played a bit slower this time around. “Day of Farewell” showcases new drummer Cool Clyde with its sparse, drum-driven verses giving way to an epic doom chorus.
“Castle of the Devil” one-ups its predecessor in terms of epicness, going from a quiet, mellow verse with minimal instrumentation to a heavy, head-banging, first-raising chorus. The title track, another slow slice of Vitusean doom, leads into “Iron and Fire,” the stark coldness of which almost resembles blackened doom—to say nothing of the Bathory-esque song title…
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the trad-metal gallop of tunes like “Ice Worm” and “Iron Hammer,” but the new, slower TGOS on display on this album is right up my alley. Despite a couple dull moments on some of the lengthier numbers, this is a rock-solid release in my books.