Album: No Rising Sun
Label: Unique Leader Records
Genre: Blackened Post-Metal
Release Date: August 23rd, 2019
For those unfamiliar, Wrvth (pronounced ‘wrath’) is a metal band hailing from the California bay area. This band landed an impressive debut in 2010 with “Portals Through Ophiuchus” which retains the savage breakdowns and beauty found in tech-death, akin to The Faceless and Spawn of Possession, but replaces the sci-fi flourishes with the jazz sort. The tech-death was honed and enhanced on “Revelation” in 2013, which saw a bit of a departure from jazz, ultimately giving room for guitarists to throw in more post-rock clean guitar sections. This idea was further developed and investigated in 2015, with smashing success in their self titled album “Wrvth”. Here, one can find a wonderful mix of punk, metalcore, technical death metal, black metal, post-rock, topped off with some jazz saxophone.
Drawing inspiration from Explosions in The Sky, Circa Survive, and Norma Jean, Wrvth successfully mastered establishing a creepy, depressing, and moving atmosphere on “Wrvth.” Wrvth had reinvented themselves, morphing from your average tech-death band chock-full of riffs and breakdowns to a group of musicians who knew each other intimately enough to cohesively write a record that was wholly original. The screeching vocals, curtesy of Thomas Vasquez, acts as the razor-sharp edge of Wrvth, cutting through the thumping bass of Taylor Preston and the exact drumming of Joseph Serrano, all while being backed by the intertwining, melodious and atmospheric guitars of Jeremy Larsen and Marcus Vasquez. Never before had I heard blackened tech-death with such heavy post-rock/metal traces, and I struggled to find other bands that left the same impression. This record, for all intents and purposes, is a perfect example of a band maturing and experimenting successfully. After four anxious years, I was immensely pleased when they announced their upcoming album “No Rising Sun” and was overjoyed at the prospect of being able to write a review on it.
Having been addicted to “Wrvth” like it was my own heroin, I intimately internalized every cymbal strike and guitar note of that album. Thus, I was blindsided by what I heard when I listened to the first song, Wrvth’s latest single ‘Eventide’. I heard the clear influence and fruitful explorations of post-metal atmosphere that was on “Wrvth”, but the tech-death is much less emphasized. At first I was taken aback, but like many good musical acts a couple more listens gave me an understanding of just how much Wrvth as a band have grown. Wrvth have proven themselves as masters of their craft. The post-metal blends effortlessly with melodic blackened death metal sections leading to occasional metalcore breakdowns, with some hardcore à la mode. While I am a fan of neutral production, where every instrument is heard with clarity and distinction, I found that the production of “Wrvth” was so clean and neutral that it left the record void of any feel because of how transparently clear it was. In “No Rising Sun”, the production is dry and crisp, evoking a sense of hopelessness and resignation palpable to the human ear.
Joseph takes his turn on being the razor’s edge for Wrvth, holding rhythms of both the bass and guitars while providing his unique drum fills that whip and snap like David Garibaldi of Tower of Power. When Joseph goes in, the listener is made clear of his mastery over his instrument. Every single strike or kick is appropriate and compliments with the tastefulness of a professional jazz drummer. Prepare yourself for some of the fastest acoustic blast beats and double-kicks you will hear this year. Accompanying Joseph is Taylor, holding the pulse of each song with his ominous bass, gentle yet ever present should one pay attention to it, grounding each measure of the soaring guitars. The guitars effortlessly weave with each other, interchanging their positions holding melodies and harmonies from one moment to the next. If Wrvth didn’t make that clear in their previous album, Jeremy and Marcus are a class-act in their deliver of duel guitars, creating melodies that intertwine like a unified stream of consciousness, coalescing a babbling brook of sorrow with a forest fire of anger. Like the coldest of snow deep in the Siberian forests, the screams of Thomas blankets the entire record in anguish and frustration. In their previous record, the snarled blackened screams had a tendency to overwhelm the listener at some parts. Thankfully, the production has allowed the unique voice of Thomas to be the emotive, appropriate, and enjoyable frosting of this anguish cake.
What we see here is an instance where each member contributes actively and with purpose, and the results are fruitful. While “Wrvth” paved way for a unique niche of metal, ultimately it is “No Rising Sun” that completes and gives shape to this niche. It demands listeners from every genre of metal to give the utmost of priority to itself. “No Rising Sun” is Wrvth’s most complete and cohesive delivery to date, and is full of grace. I highly recommend listening through the album in one go, as listeners should expect an entertaining and original listen that ebbs and flows in a lifelike manner. I refrain from addressing each song individually, as a critic never judges a piece of art stroke by stroke, instead opting to analyze the complete picture. The same goes for us reviewers and those whose curious ears fall onto this gem of an album. Each song contributes to the story being told, and stitched together leaves a sorrowful and intricate odyssey that the listener embarks on. Unfortunately, the depressive mood found on this album is not without purpose.
Given the album’s description on their social media and bandcamp, Wrvth has made it clear to fans, friends, and family alike that this is their last album they plan on releasing. It is a damn shame that us fans of metal, who vicariously exhibit our emotions through intense music, will not be able to hear more of Wrvth. “No Rising Sun” is a blood-red sunset that highlights trials and tribulations of a band. Every member has slogged through the pooled knee-deep bullshit that circumstances have thrown at them and pulls through successfully, telling us a story of their efforts through soundscapes and vocals, all that engage the listener intimately. Despite their melancholy send-off, I am left with a bittersweet feeling of content. There is no doubt in my mind that this album has landed a spot in my AOTY list, and I will enjoy “No Rising Sun” until my sun ceases to rise.
- Pirouette of Hysterics
- Calcified to Stone
- House of the Centenary
- Dust and Moolight
- Furrows of a Dying Tree
Total Playing Time: 53:33