"Along with Testament, Overkill, King's X, and a whole slew of other great bands, Wrathchild America had the misfortune of being "lost in the Atlantic". What that means is that they were signed to Atlantic records, un(der)promoted by the label, then unceremoniously dropped shortly afterward. What made W.A. stand out from their thrash metal brethren was that they were much bluesier. You could tell that from just listening to bassist/vocalist Brad Divens' whiskey drenched vocals. But that wasn't all. There were also elements of jazz and classical musical that could be heard. This was a band that should have been as famous as Metallica. I'm not exaggerating.
Formed in the early 1980s by guitarists Jay Abbene and Terry Carter, the band named themselves Wrathchild after the classic Iron Maiden song. A glam rock group from England threatened the American Wrathchild with legal action, causing the band to add "America" to their name. Later, they would add to their ranks Divens and an extremely gifted young drummer named Shannon Larkin, who is currently drumming for Godsmack. Nothing against the English (being almost half-English myself), but I think we had the better Wrathchild.
_Climbin' the Walls_ from 1989 is one of thrash metal's unsung treasures. The gamut is ran from the AC/DC meets Maiden title track to pure thrash ("Hell's Gates") to a very technical instrumental ("Hernia") to the creepy atmosphere of "London After Midinght" to a fine Pink Floyd cover ("Time") and to our final stop, the NWOBHM inspired "Day of the Thunder" - complete with tag team guitar solos. When so many of their fellow thrash bands tried to play as fast as possible, W.A. focused on variety and just plain good songwriting. Every song here is a winner.
W.A. would go on to release the slightly weaker but still very much worthy _3-D_ in 1991. That album didn't go over too well either. Then they would change their name to Souls at Zero while adopting more of an Alice in Chains-styled sound, while keeping the same members. You guessed it, that went over like a fart in a submarine too. Then they would finally call it a day some time in the mid-1990s.
Nowadays, both albums from W.A. are not easy to find since they have been out of print for at least fifteen years. But don't give up, thrash bands from yesteryear are rereleasing their albums when one least expects. I am confident that W.A.'s will once again see the light of day. "
Kick Butt !!!!
Cold Laquer | Muncy, PA | 11/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must totally agree with the preceeding reveiw,,, this album kicks A !! I remember when this band toured PA.... no-one ever heard of them, but if i played their cover of Pink Floyds "Time", they wanted to know the band name and this album immediately!!! its a great, fast paced metal album. A must have!
Their 2nd album ( 3D )is not as ( shall i say ) "rythmic". but is very good, especially the instrumental. these guys were tight! If your a "metal head" like me you will appreciate what these guys did for their time."
Wow Shannon Larkin?!
Donald Baird | Mt. Carmel IL USA | 08/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Wrathchild in the late 80's before they had to change their name w/ the America. I saw them at Kramer's Lake in Evansville IN. The lake was a swimming park rec area, and I had no idea there would be bands later that evening. I had never saw hair that went almost to the ground! No exaggeration. Anyway the band was incredible, they Performed Metallica's "Creeping Death" flawlessly nailing the solo too. I was amazed, this band and the other Victorian Blitz was their name were very good and entertaining."
Still holds up 20 years on
Tom P. the Underground Navigator | Park Forest, IL USA | 08/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's been over 20 years now since April of 1989, when Atlantic released Wrathchild America's first (and best) LP "Climbin' the Walls." This album remained out of print for almost that long and was becoming hard to find until 2008, when Wounded Bird Records finally reissued it. Two decades on, this CD still holds up as one of the stronger metal releases to emerge at the very tail end of the '80s.
Having been only 14 in 1989 when this first came out, I did not actually get to hear it for the first time until years later, when I found the cassette used at a local record store. I actually got into the group that they would evolve into later on in the the '90s, the short lived Souls at Zero, first. (Please see my review for the latter's 1995 opus "A Taste for the Perverse" elsewhere on Amazon. It's another recommended release.)
As for the album being reviewed "Climbin' the Walls," I am listening to it now and am still struck by how strong most of the songs are. The band's sound fell somewhere between traditional power/heavy metal and the more modern thrash metal characteristic of the late '80s. Track number two "Hell's Gates" for instance, recalls more the latter, played at a tempo reminding me somewhat of Metallica's faster late '80s output.
But the real strength of the band's sound (which was unusual for its time and very distinctive) was the way it recalled the catchiness of traditional metal of the past (and the delivery is tighter than a noose at that). Not surprising, considering some of the influences these guys cite in the liner notes of the original pressing of the album (which along with the lyrics were sadly left off the reissue). These included Twisted Sister, Foghat, Anvil, Accept and Saxon. Unusual, when most of their peers at the time were more concerned with one dimensional speed and mimicking Slayer. That means that guitarists Jay Abbene and Terry Carter produce some truly classic metal riffs on standout tracks such as "No Deposit, No Return," "London After Midnight," and "Silent Darkness (Smothered Life)." The Baltimore, Maryland outfit was rounded out by vocalist/bassist and former Kix member Brad Divens, and future Ugly Kid Joe and Godsmack member and the only one here who wouldn't appear in the later Souls at Zero incarnation, drummer Shannon Larkin.
All in all, if in the late '80s climate of speed and thrash metal, you missed the essential catchiness of bands of the past, Wrathchild America were here on this 1989 release to change all that. (Final sidenote: this record features yet another classic Ed Repka album cover, and it's among his best.)"