REVIEW: Wraiths – Hollow [EP/2014/DO NOT MISS]


Artist: Wraiths

Album: Hollow – EP


There is a shade extending over the surface of the earth—a shadow with limitless depth and unmatched darkness. Brooding, it engulfs entire cities whole, extending its reach across oceans and countries until every inch of every continent is covered by its impervious, somber loom. It isn’t long before the earth quakes—magnetic axes distorted and thrown off by the shadow’s incessant presence; oceans swallow nations, cities crushed, plunging under ice-cold darkness. This shadow, dense and suffocating as it might be, is Hollow, the latest EP by Wraiths, Middleborough-based misanthropic down-tempo deathcore masters. By combining unbelievable dissonance with shrill, shrieking vocals and pulverizing—yet poetic—lyrical content, Wraiths turn entire cities into oceanic graveyards, drowning their inhabitants and stealing their souls. In a word, Hollow is pure destruction—nothing more, and certainly not a syllable less.

First, there is the amorphous, intangible darkness—the spectre that spreads across states lines and seas alike. A haunting, hyper-ambient cloud of near-tangible darkness that pours into the listener’s head through any orifice it can find. This is but one aspect to Wraiths’ EP, Hollow. “Godslayer” and “Belial” both make abundant use of this tactic, beginning with atmospheric portions that are not quite outwardly aggressive, but still dissonant and bitter enough to bend the listener’s back with sheer, uncanny weight. Fierce, low percussion provides a groove-friendly canvas for the impending dissonance of the unbelievable and unstoppable fretwork to come—pouring forth from the fingers of Daniel Charlton as if they were clouds of locusts. These uncanny, overarching spans of ambient, fret-friendly density are one of the driving, pervasive factors that sets Wraiths aside from—and above—their peers. The epic track “Malignation” makes this abundantly clear—separating portions of relentless, spine-shattering aggression with ambience and atmosphere that almost fools the listener into the thinking they’re out of the woods—that they might just make it out alive—only to be flattened by a tidal wave of muscle-shredding, aneurism-inducing heaviness.

The passive presence of the shadow could only last so long without some greater, grandiose effect. Before too long, the sun is completely covered—the oceans rile and writhe with increasing tenacity. The passive, brooding portions of ambience and ethereal—yet crushing—atmosphere that Wraiths brought to the table soon manifest their full fury in just this; limitless, boundless, unstoppable anguish. “Gravelord” illustrates this ideally—attacking the listener with an organized, brief onslaught of boundless bitterness and energetic, frenzied abuse. In fact, “Gravelord” and “Devoured” see Wraiths tearing into the listener’s flesh and filling their lungs with lacerating, intense hatred with the closest thing to speed the entire release has. The simple truth is that even at their fastest and most energetic, Hollow is still a thorough, low-and-slow gutting experience, slowly but surely pulling every ounce of life from the listener, leaving nothing but an empty carapace. This is done with a brutalizing and severe combination of pounding, doomingly dissonant percussion and funeral dirge-style bass-and-guitar dynamics that harmonize to rip like a buzz-saw through the listener’s skull and siphon out their sanity.

The entire face of the planet has changed—a blue marble pockmarked with continental acne is now wrapped in darkness—acrid, thick and impermeable. It hangs like a veil, obfuscating the fates of the billions who drown in the thick, liquid dissonance beneath. Wraiths have changed the face of down-tempo deathcore and low, slow and heavy music as the listener knows it—and they do it with a completely different and shockingly visceral—and effective—approach with the vocals. Rae Robinson lets loose with a cavalcade of intense, shrill shrieks that split the listener’s head wide open as if it were a rotten egg. There are a million pretty ways to delicately state how brilliant the contrast between the high vocals and unfathomably low instrumentation is, but the simple truth is that it is game changing. Not only is it remarkably effective, but it is almost completely unique—combining a completely unexpected vocal assault with a comprehensively crushing salvo of perfectly executed low-and-slow instrumentation that leaves everything in Wraiths’ wake in a complete state of disemboweled disrepair.

Decimated by darkness, the earth has become Hollow. Wraiths have crafted a gutting, dense release that shows not just instrumental mastery, but brilliant songwriting and dynamism as well. Stark contrasts between visceral screams and earth-shaking instrumentation catches the listener completely off-guard, knocking them on their back and gorging upon their entrails.



For Fans Of: Black Tongue, Obelisk, Obliterate, Traitors

By: Connor Welsh