A master’s return
dB rating: 8/10

Release Date: August 26, 2016
Label: Bad Omen

American metal is better off when Karl Simon is making music. The rise of his band, the Gates of Slumber, from unknown Indiana band to critics’ darling, helped bring classic, melodic heavy metal back into the consciousness of extreme scenesters over the last decade, with such superb albums as 2008’s Conqueror and 2011’s The Wretch endearing the band to many. After all, who could resist the pull of Simon’s Sabbath-meets-Vitus riffing and his stately, near-psychedelic melodies?

All things come to an end, sadly, but the demise of Gates was especially tragic: Bassist Jason McCash died a year after the band split up, and Simon said then and there that the Gates of Slumber was over. His musical career, however, is far from over, and Simon is back with a new trio named Wretch, and just as Conqueror brought a breath of fresh air to underground metal, the new project marks the return of a master of the form whose musical output was dearly missed over the past three years.

If there’s one aspect that separates Wretch from the Gates of Slumber, it’s the grittiness of the new project. The music still swings like classic 1970s Black Sabbath, but the riffs lean more toward the street-level grime of Saint Vitus, with a little ’70s Judas Priest aggression thrown in. Urgency, psychedelia, theatricality and contemplation all find common ground, all brought forth by Simon’s expressive guitar work and impassioned singing. It’s the kind of doom and gloom that leaves you buoyant and empowered, music bursting with vitality.

— Adrien Begrand
This review taken from the October 2016 issue.