Released: 2014, Victory Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The fourth album from North Carolina deathsters Wretched sees the return of former guitarist Joel Moore, who replaces his replacement John Vail, but finds the band not straying far from the formula they seem stuck with.
As with their earlier efforts, much of Cannibal is fairly standard, technically adept melodi-death, recalling The Black Dahlia Murder, especially in frontman Adam Cody's caterwauling vocals. It's undeniably tight, polished and well-executed, with liberal splashes of snub-nosed death-core groove to provide a brutal jolt. Yet while “Thin Skinned” and “Salt Lick” boast some effectively crushing riffs, and the guitar interplay between Moore and Steven Funderburk on “Wetiko” or the black metal-tinged “To The Flies” certainly impresses, Cannibal doesn't offer much to really make the band stand out in an already crowded tech-death playing field.
Except, of course, with the title track that, like Perdition or Beyond The Gates' “Jazz Odyssey”-like sprawling, three-part instrumentals or the title track from 2009's The Exodus of Autonomy, is a prog-a-delic epic that sticks out like a sore thumb. While perhaps less meandering or pretentious than Perdition's “A Stellar Sunset of Evolution,” “Cannibal” still seems like it would be much more at home on a Scale The Summit or Animals As Leaders album than here.
Why the band insist on going to this well time and again is mystifying. It literally stops the album in its tracks, and by this point the tactic – which I guess has become Wretched's signature, kinda like the Metallica instrumentals back in the day - is exasperating. Cannibal could have used a bit of something extra, but another eight-minute instrumental ain't it.