Artists signed to Facedown Records have an unfortunate tendency of being overlooked and underrated. Please turn your attention to Hartford, Connecticut quartet Wrench In the Works: brutal. If you haven't heard them yet, it's certainly not because of your speakers. Since their Facedown debut, Lost Art of Heaping Coal, in 2008, they've been ripping up stages and shattering eardrums nationwide. Now they've come to finish off what's left of our hearing with their sophomore release, Decrease/Increase.
Borrowing influence from bands such as Living Sacrifice, Zao, and Extol while stewing in specialized elements of hardcore and thrash creates a truly rugged, uncategorizable beast. If it has a clear, singular genre, the music is played too fast to tell anyway. Let's try to break it up, shall we? The opening track, "Vultures," showcases the album from a wide view with some accuracy. The drums attack at blinding speeds and overpower with help from bolstered yet incomprehensible mid-range screaming vocals. The guitars still manage to shine through the seams though, weaving between blast beats and thunderchugs at every open opportunity.
Halfway through the track, the pace slows considerably, playing on the benefits of a secondary approach. In the end, it comes out sounding something like The Famine or American Me, or even Advent with more direction. Still, it's definitely not without originality.
"Project Ak-47" forcefully takes a minute and a half of your life and ambitiously replaces it with breakdowns and timing changes that stay effectively entertaining, though it seems to mostly play as filler. We see this again in "Pocket Watch" and "Vows (I Must Decrease)," both very short tracks with limited effort attached. "A Desert Voice," however, opens quite uniquely, with some anxiety building rim-sticking from drummer Andy Nelson. The drums seem to cry for extra attention on the album. Not only by way of the recording, as they are some of the best drums I've ever heard, but incredibly clean fills and bass beats throughout. Special attention is given to the perfectly tuned toms as well; more than I have heard from most other drummers. These accompany a haunting monologue to end "A Desert Voice."
"DeathSlayer" is one of the varied tracks on the album, retaining its originality. Tyrannical chord progressions and more technical drum beats prevail over speed and power. They don't allow any piece of their tracks to get stale either. As in "Hearts and Masks," multiple timing changes keep the song interesting. "Gethsemane" provides one of the most musically intense tracks present on the album. Although it follows the same stifling speed and timing changes as other tracks, the guitars chime and boast their contribution more so here than in other songs.
Melodic guitars in "Walk Amongst the Tombstones" throw another curve at the grasp you may have thought you had on this album. As much as Decrease/Increase seems like other one-trick metal albums, it is persistently variable. Impressive, yes? But then the final track appears all of a sudden. Facedown calls it a "full length" release, but it is painfully short, clocking in at just under half an hour. Naturally though, at the speed the songs are played, longer can hardly be expected.
You may not be able to tell from the style of vocals, but this album is passionately driven by zealous lyrics. Like other metal albums carrying a similar message, Decrease/Increase speaks about a corrupted world, "The harvest of the earth is ripe, and the sickle will swing," "We are all just a brood of vipers who've been warned of the axe at the root of the tree." Not a particularly encouraging album, another strong theme is the death of Jesus on the Cross, accenting the pain He went through; "A ready heart broken by grief," "The execution of an innocent man." But the silver lining is present. They encourage to "Strengthen your heart. Let their world fall apart," "Blessed are the Steadfast." Ultimately, we must remember that we are not of this world, and so we "must decrease, so that He may increase."
"Vows (He Must Increase)" ends the album with instrumental flare, showing off the band's ability to be outplayed by their drummer yet again. Decrease/Increase holds a lot of promise for WItW. It's original, but not so much that it isn't well-written. It stays entertaining all the way through, and short length aside, it plays on a lot of metal basics and should appeal to anyone looking for a good, loud time. It's an honest effort from a talented band.- Review date: 4/15/10, written by Wayne Reimer of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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