Thursday 17 October 2019

Wrath of Fate - Blood Congress (2019)

Country: Turkey
Style: Death Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 12 Oct 2019
Sites: Instagram | Metal Archives

Wrath of Fate aren't the most innovative death metal band on the planet but then they're not trying to be. They are, however, trying to do a little more than just downtune and let rip. I enjoyed this, their debut album, and there are a few points where they show both what they can really do and something of where they come from, which is Bursa, Turkey, on the opposite side of the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul.

I know very little else about them, as they don't seem to have a website or a Facebook page, but I found the line-up on their Instagram feed. I presume it's been consistent, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, with Ender Sarıkaya behind the mike, Emir Kahraman and Mithatcan Albayrak on twin guitars, Ahmet Çetin on bass and Kaan Menekse on drums.

They get down to business quickly with the title track setting the stage in appropriate fashion for the rest of the album. Wrath of Fate play chugging death with the usual harsh vocals (delivered in the English language) and a technical edge that's led by the twin melodic guitars. The band is able to play at speed but they're mostly content at a mid-pace, with reliable drums from Menekse keeping the tempo. What surprised me most from the outset was that Çetin's bass is often clearly audible, something that I rarely hear in death metal where it tends to be buried in the mix.

If it was the jangling intro to Blood Congress that sparked my interest in a Turkish death metal album, it's how the intro is reprised at the end of the song that kept me on board. The song's not bad at all, but it's elevated by the bookends, especially that throbbing bass towards the end. Then it rolls right into Broken Bones with a melody that feels ethnic and familiar, though I can't place it right now.

There isn't much of an ethnic side here, but it does show up and the band do play well with contrasts. While the riffs are good throughout, I really dug the quiet intros that decorate many of these tracks, like No Mercy and Oath, their melancholy occasionally seeping into the songs that follow, especially on Oath, though it's perky as often as it's melancholy. There are some doom moments on Psychopolitic that impressed me and there's a neat midsection in Uncensored too, but these two guitars are more often cheerful in nature, even if the vocals remain dark, as they tend to be.

And it's those vocals that prove the weakest aspect for me. Sarıkaya doesn't do anything wrong here and he's able to bring at least some intonation into proceedings, but he's hamstrung by the style in which he's singing. It's OK for him to be dark when the music is dark, but when the guitars perk up, he just can't follow them. He's stuck in a single tone and that really doesn't help a band that's trying to mix it up a little.

I'm not sure what the solution is. I think maybe that, if Sarıkaya is happy to stay with his one tone, another band member should step up to add vocals in a different style when needed. That could add the extra dimension that I think Wrath of Fate need to sit on top of the solid foundation that they've built here.

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