"Exodus of Autonomy" sets standard for future metal albumsMonday, March 23, 2009 By Spencer Starnes, Class of 2010
If you listen to metal, be it of the average watered-down metalcore, death-metal, or hardcore variety, then you have probably heard of the newest band to come out of North Carolina from the Charlotte area. Enter newest Victory Records artist Wretched. The band has recently released a new album on the Victory Records label. Wretched begins their latest album "Exodus of Autonomy" strongly, displaying their musical diversity with the song "Shrouded In Filth." The song is composed of a combination of violins, pianos, and orchestral strings, and it is a fitting song that coalesces perfectly with the rest of the album. From this somber, melodic piece, guitarist Joel Moore and Steven Funderburk barrel into a pummeling harmonized riff that is so characteristic of their sound, which is further enhanced by the barrage of double bass drums and battery of Marshall Wieczorek. The lyrics of "Aborning" are written in the eclectic manner of most death-metal albums, painting a distorted picture of a mother giving birth to what one would assume is the Anti-Christ. This conclusion is drawn by the lyrics, "I have come for the light arisen in shame, shrouded in filth, his starry eyes meet hers, I was born by the serpents spleen". (In the Bible, the serpent is characterized as Satan's animal host of choice.) After reading these lyrics, I assumed that Exodus would be your average (lyric-wise) death-metal album and I would be disappointed. However, I would soon find out this was not the case. Several songs later I would come across a song about the incestuous marriage between one of the great emperors of Rome, Caligula, and his sister Julia Drusilla. I found this to be an interesting change in focus from the kill-and-torture lyrics of most death-metal bands and was surprised to find very few of the songs on this album were even of this nature. At most one or two of them were gore-related, and even then the lyrics that were actually violent were few and far between, perhaps the most violent ones being from "Before The Rise" that say, "with a surly swing, I'll collapse your neck." The listeners of the album are released from the tidal waves of musical mayhem by the nine-minute title-track instrumental "VI: The Exodus of Autonomy," during which guitarists Moore and Funderburk display their true musical abilities. The song is mostly epic in nature, having a rich, full sound that is the definition of powerful, but it humbles itself in the end and fades in a true minor key acoustic series of riffs and chords. The sense of calmness brought about by the end of the instrumental is soon demolished by the beginning of yet another melodic masterpiece called "VII: The Descent," during which the singer Billy Powers once again demonstrates his enigmatic writing style, writing cryptic lyrics but masterful ones. The song blurs into the final track named "Everlasting Damnation," which is written in much the same way as the opening one, with an arrangement of cello, violins, a short melodic harmonized guitar riff, and piano. Musicians will note that the album is masterful in the guitar work, the drums, and even the lyrics themselves. The vocals are well done in the fact that they break away from the stagnant, worn-out shrieks and pig-squeals of traditional grindcore and death-core and embrace a much more discernible approach to delivering the lyrics. The album is far from bland. The musicians vary their keys, employ multiple scales, and change their structure from song to song. The songs are not simply intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus; there is hardly ever a time where the same lick is played twice. Billy's use of highs and lows (screaming has no discernible key so the difference between two different sounding screams are classified by pitch) help enrich the album. For this album, I would give a rating of 10/10 because Wretched play their complex music flawlessly and they break away from the mold that death-metal and hardcore artists have succumbed to so many times in the past and they have also resurrected the long-forgotten extended guitar solo. They have set a standard for future bands to try and live up to. Wretched have unearthed a gem in the dull earthen world that is the metal scene. For fans of The Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel and Beneath The Massacre.