Wraith – Fueled by Fear (Prosthetic Records)

It seems a long time since the thrash revival spewed up a chunk of hi-top sporting upstarts. Warbringer and Havok made their debuts 20 years ago, Municipal Waste’s Waste ’Em All dates back to 2003, and many younger metal fans weren’t even born when Evile conquered Bloodstock and put themselves on the thrash map.

But while the excitement of those days dissipated – and there was no Reign In Blood, Master Of Puppets or Rust In Peace to show for all the hype – thrash and its crossover cousin didn’t fade to black.  

Power Trip’s lessons in violence enthralled a new generation and the Texans were on course for world domination until Riley Gale’s tragic passing. In their wake, High Command, Ninth Realm, Enforced and Lowest Creature are carrying the torch into the 2020s.

You can add Indiana’s Wraith to that list.

The quartet ride the lighting between Bay Area street thrash and necrotising metal punk a la Hellripper or Toxic Holocaust, with Matt Sokol’s abrasive rasp full of underworld menace.

They’re not breaking boundaries, mashing opposing genres or stretching into the progsphere. Four albums in and Wraith, who formed in 2016, are sticking to the formula that worked so well on Heed The Warning, Absolute Power and Undo the Chains.

And you can’t blame them for that. Certainly not when their witch’s brew of Exodus, Kreator and Venom conjures up songs as good as the twisting, tempo shifting title track or Heathen’s Touch – three and half minutes of bloody rage and switchblade riffs.

Aggression runs through Fueled by Fear and with the exception of the brooding Shame in Suffering and The Breaking Wheel’s chuggy stomp, the pace barely drops. Quickfire picking and Mike Szymendera’s high velocity kitwork masterfully propel songs like Code Red and Truth Decay. Pit carnage awaits.

Yet the band also rev up the Motörpunk on Ice Cold Bitch, for a little change in style, if not delivery – and if there’s one criticism of this record, it’s that more songs on the vein of that ditty and its 2021 forebears, Mistress Of The Void and the Lemmy-loving Born to Die, would have been welcome.

Still, we have Midnight for that kind of gutter rock and Wraith can’t exactly be accused of going soft on us.

Lean, hungry and with fire in their bellies, these boys are here to slay.

Wraith photo by Christian Danner.