I’ve found that people have a tendency to focus on hot, new releases before falling back into their regular rotation of classics. In doing so, it can be easy for us to forget powerful albums that aren’t new anymore, but aren’t quite established parts of our standard rotation. The entire point of this segment is to highlight these albums that are no longer top of mind and are more than deserving of a second glance. I can think of nothing more worthy than Wrathblade’s God of the Deep Unleashed.
Despite coming out five years after the band’s debut, God of the Deep Unleashed is a refined continuation of the style Wrathblade established for themselves on Into the Netherworld’s Realm. Their sound draws heavy influence from the epic song structures of Manilla Road and from the fast paced, bouncing riffs of bands like Brocas Helm and Slough Feg, but Wrathblade’s sound is entirely their own. They take the template established by the legendary American bands and infuse it with their brand of Greek muscle to create a compelling and unique style. The formula is so effective that God of the Deep Unleashed was one of my most listened to albums of the past year despite coming out in 2017.
A key part in what keeps bringing me back to Wrathblade’s sophomore album is their distinct approach to songwriting. The songs are incredibly varied as they cycle between mid-paced epics, beautiful acoustics, up-tempo gallops, and even the occasional doom passage. There’s a lot going on in this album and not once does it get boring nor does it ever feel disjointed. What sticks out to me however is Wrathblade’s surprisingly frequent usage of tremolo picking and their emphasis on the low end. It gives the music a much heavier feeling that at times is very reminiscent of their more extreme countrymen like Rotting Christ and Varathron. The guitars take the lead in crafting the narrative on this album, but the band still gives plenty of room for Nick’s mighty vocals to take the reins.
The most remarkable part of God of the Deep Unleashed is hands down Nick Varsamis’s vocal performance. I’ll be the first to admit he doesn’t have the broadest range or the most beautiful tone, but what he does have plenty of is character. Nick alternates from a bombastic, mid-ranged, epic pattern to soft, spoken word passages, to barbaric wails, and everything in between. His approach is truly unique and I haven’t heard anyone else like him, a true hallmark of a great vocalist. The main criticisms I’ve seen of Nick’s vocals revolve around his undeniably Greek accent. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a household of first generation immigrants or maybe it’s because it reminds me of the several wonderful Greek people I’ve met in my life, but his accent doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact, I find it earnest in a way and the accent just adds another dimension to his charisma. Nick’s dynamic vocal delivery, accent and all, compliments the music perfectly and breathes life into this metal Odyssey.
I struggle to find any glaring weaknesses on God of the Deep Unleashed. My main issue with Wrathblade’s debut was the poor production and this has been addressed here. The songwriting was excellent on Into the Netherworld’s Realm , but it was buried by the muddy production and the impact of the vocals in particular suffered as a result. This time around, the production and mix are much clearer and better balanced which give the band room to shine. The only qualm I have with the album is the slight dip in quality on the B side before reaching “Submersion”, the album’s massive closer and the final chapter in this epic.
God of the Deep Unleashed is a musical journey of monumental proportions that lives up to the titanic backdrop of its mythological themes. Aggressive bangers, mournful epics, and triumphant anthems – it really ticks all the boxes. I didn’t expect myself to be so swept up by this release, yet here I am in 2019 and I’m still listening to it regularly with no sign of burning out.
Album Rating: 95/100
Favorite Track: Submersion