Gloom Ballet

This afternoon I was discussing the recursive nature of music with a good friend and I concluded after much thought , that there possibly four levels of music viz:

  1. True Innovators with a unique sound
  2. Quality bands who have borrowed their sound from a combination of other bands
  3. Bands that completely copy artistes from 1. or 2. above and to which there is no discernible difference from the innovators they are aping.
  4. Tribute/Covers Bands

The relative merits of each of those categories I’ll leave up to people’s personal tastes. From my perspective I tend to listen mostly to 1. and occasionally 2. Of course it’s probably a lot more complicated than that but I won’t go down that rabbit hole.

The Wraith fall into category 2.

Less than three years since forming this  L.A. post-punk band has completed its debut full-length, Gloom Ballet, with Puscifer guitarist/producer Mat Mitchell. The foursome just signed to Southern Lord Recordings, who’ll release the album worldwide on November 29th.

Southern Lord owner Greg Anderson has been amazing to work with, and we really appreciate his willingness to incorporate a different sound into his roster,” said Wraith guitarist Kaz Alvis.

This album presents a modern take on pre-goth ‘80s UK post-punk (Death Cult, Killing Joke, Chameleons, New Model Army) mixed with SoCal deathrock (T.S.O.L., Samhain) in an interesting combination, with the balance being with the former rather than the latter.

The Wraith was founded by frontman Davey Bales, formerly of Virginia peace-punks Lost Tribe, and Alvis shortly after they separately arrived in L.A. Their irresistibly distinctive sound – skeletal basslines and tribal beats propelling Alvis’ textured swathes beneath Bales’ poetic, anguished bark – immediately gained a following, with homemade demo “Comatic Romance” racking-up thousands of YouTube views.

The Crass like imagery of the cover will not be lost on people old enough to remember Dave King’s iconic designs, somewhat apposite given his recent passing.

West Coast shows honed the songs that became The Wraith’s lauded 2017 EP, “Shadow Flag”. A couple of videos and line-up changes later – the band is now completed by returned drummer Scott Raynor and Brit bassist Paul Rogers –sound earned the ear of Mitchell (who’s also worked with Love and Rockets, The Flaming Lips, Meat Puppets, King Crimson and more).

“The Wraith is a flashback to many of the bands that inspired me to start making music,” said Mitchell. “Given the opportunity to work on an album with them, how could I turn it down?”

With bands like Klammer bringing this sound back to the fore last year, this is probably a timely release. Original lovers of the 80’s- sound will recognise and possibly enjoy this slightly harder edged treatment, newer/younger listeners will enjoy it’s energetic anthemic brashness. I would imagine this is music which works best in a live setting.

Well worth a listen…….. 8/10

Photo credit: Michelle Shiers