Wanted Inc. aren't new kids. They've been performing under this name since 2010 and five further years before that as The Wanted. This is their fourth album, but it's my first by them, because the previous one, Embarrassment to the Establishment, dates back to 2018.
Frustratingly, it's a mixed bag from the outset. I was impressed from the outset because there's a tasty lead in to the opening track proper, Hostile Reaction, as a growing extended scream after the intro builds into the crunch. The catch is that the crunch feels quiet. Most albums I listen to tend to have a similarly levelled volume but this one needed to be turned up and, when I did that, it still didn't feel like it had the requisite crunch. The worst thing about the album is the production. Gradually I was able to adjust my ears but it's a weird feeling to listen to a new album in 2024 and have to compensate for the 2004 sound.
Often what that boiled down to is that I enjoyed what the band are doing, but wished I could hear them on stage as they're meant to sound. I wonder how many more songs would pop then than do now. The band sound very capable and, on my first time through, they alternated between feeling like a decent, albeit run of the mill, thrash band that were enjoyable enough but I could drift away from easily and a stronger thrash band who didn't want me to wander off so grabbed my attention back and told me in no uncertain fashion to quit getting distracted.
They did that a lot here. For every song that felt acutely routine, like Night Capturer, they followed up with a belter, in this instance Grilling the Globe. That's a fast song and I like Wanted Inc. at their fastest. The guitarwork blisters, courtesy of Hermann Weiß and Daniel Feuerer, even if both suffer from the production, and it remains strong even when they give way to a sample and then shift to chug mode to wrap up the song. Whatever speed they go on this song, they do it very right. Hannes Waschler, who has the longest tenure in the band, keeps a glorious beat too.
Unfortunately, Grilling the Globe remains the fastest track on the album, because I'd have liked to have heard a lot more at that speed, but there are others that blister, even at a slower pace. Mind Cleaner stubbornly stays midpace for far too long but, when it doe speed up, it's excellent. That's a common thread on this album, because I constantly wanted them to speed up and, every time they did and things felt right, they slowed back down again.
I should also mention that I tend to see Wanted Inc. listed as a thrash/death metal band, but I hear the first half of that consistently over the latter. I do see that Flo Schmöller is a new lead vocalist, joining this year along with Heiko F. Böhm on bass, and I wonder if his predecessor had more of an overtly death metal voice. There's maybe a hint of death growl in sustained syllables but that's a bit of a stretch. Mostly he sings in a traditionally rough thrash voice with more of a hint of shouted -core vocals than a death growl. He does the job but I wanted more edge than he had to offer.
This probably sounds like a negative review and I didn't intend it that way. A 6/10 from me is still a recommended rating. I try not to review albums that I don't believe are worthy, but I do wonder if Wanted. Inc's sound has changed over time. I found a lot of problems here but I also want to hear them live to see how they play on stage because I have a feeling I'd rather like them there without being hindered by this rather un-beefy production. I also want to hear how Schmöller sounds in a live environment. Of course, I'm a long way from Bavaria so I'm not likely to hear them live soon. I hope I get the chance at some point. In the meantime, I have three previous albums to check out.