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Hapless Wretch – Vol. 1

Hapless Wretch
Vol. 1
by Gary Hernandez at 04 September 2021, 9:25 PM

HAPLESS WRETCH is a one-person Blackened/Death/Sludge metal project out of London, England. In July 2021, they released their debut EP on Cursed Monk Records (Ireland) and Life After Death (US), the aptly titled “Vol. 1.” The album comprises four brief tracks, spanning just over ten minutes of ultra-distorted aggression. The tracks, like the unadorned title, get right to the point. There is nothing esoteric or nuanced about this album—what you expect after looking at the album cover (by Primitive Print) and scanning the song titles, is what you get.

The project formed sometime in early 2021, and perhaps “Vol. 1” and the band itself is a product of or reaction to these odd times. The band has said they focus on “mental illness. Misanthropy. Anger at the death and destruction we cause on this planet towards humans and animals.” Yep, sounds like 2021. I say “they,” but the single band member remains anonymous, simply going by HAPLESS WRETCH. I actually like the ‘anonymous’ approach as it forces listeners to assess the band on their artistic merits as opposed to things like musical pedigree. Production-wise the album seems intentionally lo-fi while simultaneously keeping db deep in the red. It’s not a bad sound, and I’m sure a lot of work went into making it just so.

“Vol. 1” kicks off with “Natrium Myr,” a bass heavy track characterized as much by its screeching vocals as its pummeling drum programming. Of the four, it’s by far my favorite track. Lyrically, I have no idea what’s going on—no way I can come remotely close to deciphering any of the demonic belching—but I presume the song title loosely means ‘salt marsh.’ Sounds suitably Death and Black to me and fits well with the overall Sludge aesthetic. My other favorite track is “Vomica” for its brutally raw and stripped-down riff that drops at the 1:13 mark. The remaining two tracks are interesting enough. The first half of “Kuru” features an overly drawn-out intro but is balanced out by a stunning second half; “Necrotizing Fascitiitis” is a bit uninspired in it’s flattened landscape.

Altogether, “Vol. 1” comes across like a demo. There’s not enough here to really plot out a trajectory, but it certainly leaves me curious as to what will comes next. With that said, a second EP is reported as being completed and may be released later this year. There are even suggestions the band will have a live presence. Looking forward to seeing what will emerge.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 5
Memorability: 5
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Natrium Myr
2. Necrotizing Fasciitus
3. Vomica
4. Kuru
Hapless Wretch - all instruments
Record Label: Cursed Monk Records


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Edited 01 December 2022

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