The tale of Brighton’s Watchcries is one of momentum. Forming in 2016, comprising former members of acts like Torpor, Dopefight, War Wolf and TEEF, they quickly laid down a self-titled EP and made their live debut supporting mighty doom-mongers Conan. 2017 sees them maintain this pace with the release of their first full-length – ‘Wraith’.

Whereas the EP was a blistering tour de force, at times feeling uncomfortably dense – as if the band had compacted every idea they’d ever had into the space of four tracks – ‘Wraith’ is much more considered. They’ve given it room to breathe and flex.

‘Ashen’ hisses in with an acrid noise scape, before Nats Spada asserts herself with towering, raw screams. Rapid snare whips up the pace, morphing seamlessly into roiling blastbeats, laying down a hardcore-by-way-of-grind groove. Guitars chug and bristle, injecting a sense of panic, shifting effortlessly into a punishing swing and ringing single chords. It’s a testament both to the bands’ tone and the mastery of Wayne Adams (Bear Bites Horse studios) that these chords hit like sledgehammer blows.

Effortlessly flowing into ‘Fate Deemed’, hefty kicks conjure irresistible rhythms, guitars stuttering and stop/starting their way into a snaking groove. Spada uses vocals as punctuation, the track building tension through lowing atonality, moving through a pummeling drum descent and a bouncing riff before shifting into triumphant ending chords that are sure to have all fists raised in salutation. ‘Serving Union’ strikes with massive, jarring chords and locks into a frantic groove before snatching all steady handholds away with a dipping, raging section. Straight, focussed drives and canny cymbals use perpetuates a relentless, rolling rhythmic force that underpins Spada’s ragged roars, closing with a strident, sea-floor dredging riff.

‘Reawake’ echoes with distant noise a mournful, reverb drenched guitar looping. Hesitant cymbals and tolling bass notes belie the bands’ usual fury, which quickly emerges on the back of a snare powered groove, casting shades of Code Orange’s metallic hardcore wrath. Blastbeats cascade with near black metal intensity, the band indulging in ripping intensity which is soon soothed by the return of more somber overtones, which also sees Spada introducing delicate, vulnerable clean vocals. The track closes out with searing vehemence, absolutely blistering, chords raining with dizzying speed.

‘Wild Flesh’ has a loping, broken-necked atonality, dropping into a big riff that hinges on guitarist Paul Hale’s commanding barks, passing through a one-two waltz before working itself up into a frenzy of foam mouthed bass notes, thrown out by Steve Barry. ‘Burial Ground’ gallops from the off, impressing with turns of speed and impressively tight stop/start riffing. Descending steadily into a rumbling drive, it explores new depths with arachnid guitars and tidal churns of drums, building before coming to a dead stop.

‘Undying Solace’ echoes with synth noise, a predatory bass/drum union stalking in, and dropping into a frantic, glass-sharp drive. The pace is furious, relentless, triplet-infused chugging and d-beat intensity causing unbridled havoc. Ant Cole, throughout this record, is phenomenal – turning on a dime, mirroring and expanding on Barry and Hale’s riffing, creating inhuman textures and truly breath-taking haste. Hissing whispers evolve into dreamy clean vocals, drums twitching restlessly, glossy and saccharine before exploding into dramatic, wide-scoped and conquering chords before sputtering to an end. We’d have been happy for things to end there, but Watchcries treat us to a final left turn with ‘Observance’. Waves of noise lap around slow, distant percussion, dour piano chords entwining with shimmering cymbals. It’s a total tonal shift, more akin to a Scandinavian TV drama soundtrack than anything else, atmospheric and layered with chiming guitar, eventually spilling forth with guttural ire before winding down, having exhausted itself. It’s well executed and showcases the band’s breadth of skill and influences, but it’s up for debate whether it truly fits as the final piece of Wraith’s puzzle. Regardless, this is a statement of intent that most bands can only aspire to. Confident, brimming with conviction and, most importantly, it is crushingly, uncompromisingly heavy. This record is sure to put Watchcries on the map. PUNKTASTIC.COM




Fate Deemed

Severing Union


Wild Flesh

Burial Ground

Undying Solace


Label: Headless Guru Records 

Catalogue Number:  HGR028