Wraith, Black Knife, Graveripper and Unholy Night – Faster Than the Fucking Devil

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The second I saw this album announced on Instagram I immediately hit like because it features three of my favourite modern thrash acts (plus one) all on one release together. It isn’t often that this happens, that this many bands you love team up for an album. Not only that but it’s being release by one of my favourite independent labels, Wise Blood Records.

I have something to admit and something to clarify before we get into this. My admission is that when I saw and liked the post announcing this album, I actually thought it was a live show and commented “WOW! Wish I could attend this show” but managed to delete it before anyone saw. At first glance seeing this many badass bands on one bill had me thinking it had to be a gig, so you can imagine my excitement (and embarrassment) when I realised that I was wrong. My clarification is that when I say “three of my favourite modern thrash acts (plus one)” I refer to Wraith, Black Knife and Graveripper. I have a deep respect for all three of these acts and see them as being at the forefront of blackened thrash, not just by modern standards, but by all standards. What I need to clarify is that I’m not leaving Unholy Night out of this list of top bands because I dislike their music, its simply the fact that prior to this split I had actually never heard of them, let alone heard their music. This is an injustice that I am very glad to have rectified as I can now happily say that they also absolutely kill it.

Now onto the music. The album kicks off with three tracks from Indiana’s Wraith, a band that I fell in love with last year thanks to their exceptional 2021 release Undo the Chains. Just as they did with their previous album, Wraith come at the listener with full force. The band launch straight into a high-speed blackened thrash/speed metal assault with the album’s opener Demons of Doubt. They carry this energy right through (Call Me) The Destroyer and Seven Serpents. Across the three tracks you’ll find high speed punk energy presented with non-stop thrash and speed metal riffage. Paired with this are the faded, subtly layered barked harsh vocals that the band deliver expertly. Together you get a winning combination of old school inspired new wave blackened thrash.

Second up we have Kentucky’s Black Knife, a band that I also fell in love with last year thanks to their equally as exceptional 2021 release Murder Season (which made my AOTY list). Black Knife forced their way into my heart with their super aggressive punk driven style of black thrash. A key part of their sound is thick, chunky and highly audible bass work that sits on level with the guitar on their three tracks. Bouncy punk rhythms drive the songs forward, particularly their second track Gouge the Eyes Out, Steal the Soul. This song actually reminds me a lot of Goatwhore’s Carving Out the Eyes of God (one of my all-time black thrash albums) and is one of my favourites on the album. Despite their high energy and thick bass there is still plenty of raw black metal aggression, something that the band full demonstrate on their third track Satanic Commander.

Third up we have Indiana’s Graveripper who I ALSO fell in love with last year and who made my top albums of the year list and midyear top albums list with their 2021 EP Radiated Remains. Graveripper just make incredible blackened thrash, plain and simple. They band have a style similar to one of my all-time favourite modern acts Toxic Holocaust (and their last EP was produced by none other than Joel Grind himself). They continue this trend of releasing outstanding music with their three tracks on offer here. Their first track Mind Filled With Dread is a perfect example of just how hard hitting modern thrash can be and has a fantastic chorus that can and will get stuck in your head. Night Frozen Black continues this trend but gets even catchier while adding in an even more aggression. The vocals on this track are simply fantastic and I would probably have to call this my favourite song on the album. Lastly, they present us
with Tomb of the Oppressor, the least catchy but most atmospheric track of the three which really shine in its own way.

Lastly but not least we have the wild card, Moscow, Russia based band Unholy Night who also happened to release a 2021 split that I’m sure I would have also loved. The band present us with the final two tracks on the album and they close it hard. Their sound is probably the most speed metal driven of the four acts and comes across as a little more lo-fi which helps give it a unique aesthetic among the four. Their two tracks really don’t slow down or let up at any point, simply charging ahead full speed, driven by relentless riffage and drum work. The vocals sit a little lower in the mix than the other three acts, and each element overlaps with each other giving the music an old school feel, as if it could have come from the 80s itself.

Overall, this is a truly fantastic split. If someone asked me what album they should listen to in order to get into modern thrash metal, I would suggest this one. It showcases just how much raw talent is currently active in the scene and how the US continues to put out some of the greatest thrash acts of all time. All four of these bands are worth keeping an eye on because I see big things in all of their futures.




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