Wraith – “Revelation” (Ice Rain Records)
Back in the mid 80s when hairspray bands moved out’ve of the sleeze clubs of LA’s Sunset Strip and into stadiums, bands like Motley Crue, Poison, and Ratt were taking rock music by a storm. Back in Blighty, the mighty Def Leppard had already clawed a niche for themselves in America, but there was precious little following them – except for Wraith! Born in middle England and weened through numerous gigs at Nottingham’s Rock City, Wraith soon had the hard rock scene fired up and garnered support from industry icons like Lemmy who sang backing vocals on their debut that was also produced by Pete Way and Brian Robertson! With their follow up release “Riot” produced by Mark Bruce (Black Sabbath / Magnum) tours soon followed with Motorhead, Saxon, UFO, Legs Diamond, Mamas Boys, Wolfsbane, Grim Reaper and more with their popularity spreading further to Europe and Japan. Almost a decade later and close to stardom and the band split with the members pursuing personal interests – including founder guitarist Gregg Russell who took up bass in Tigertailz. Still, over the years Russell has kept the band going through various line-ups, which brings us to 2017’s crew of Dieter Schänzer on guitars, Kim Nielsen (Phantom Blue, Asia) on bass, drummer Jay Graham (Ravenscreed, Tony Iommi) and vocalist Ryan Coggin who apparently was snatched from Ratt! Keeping to Wraith tradition are once again some notable guests in Pete Way (bass – UFO), Steevi Jaimz (backing vocals – Tigertailz) and Tony Mills (backing vocals – Shy, T.N.T). So is it Wraith as we know it? Well, if you crave hard, guitar drenched rock with massive amounts of catchy melodies then the 10 tracks on “Revelation” will take you right back to to the 80s – even if you now can’t get into spandex and don’t have any hair ha ha! Seriously, the twin guitars have that raw, hard edge making Dokken, Lynch Mob and Great White spring to mind along with obviously Ratt cos of Coggin’s vocal style, along with a hint of the Scorpions especially in some of the melodic guitar solos. In fact, aside from the ballad ‘Leaving Me Again’ which is very much in the Whitesnake / Scorpions vein the rest of the album is incredibly heavy and I’m guessing that’s in no small part due to producer Neil Kernon (Dokken, Queensrÿche, Shy) and mastering by Andy Sneap (Accept, Kreator, Machine Head, Megadeth). With all this in their favor, “Revelation” has all the elements to make it one of the hard rock albums of the year – be it in the contemporary or classic rock vein! Just check out ‘Invasion’ with its raw chugging riffs and piston drums that blend effortlessly with melodic lines and an almost AOR catchy chorus thanks to Coggin’s young, soulful vocals while on ‘Human Hater’ the tempo and aggression are taken to the max with hard, driving riffs, heavy bass and power drumming and Coggin becoming more rawer, although again brilliantly contrasted by some superbly classy and memorable guitar melodies. Best of all for me was actually the bonus track ‘Hunted’ that brought all the memories home with its gentle Leppard acoustic intro before whirring in some heavy riffola a la Skid Row before another tender and of course singalong chorus – not to mention those cool lyrics referring to the devil, dirty girls and rock n roll at Rock City – yeah baby! An utterly shattering experience that sees a fine return to the band’s roots and only adds more pedigree to Wraith’s legendary heritage.