Album Review: Traitor – Last Hope For the Wretched

Album Review: Traitor - Last Hope For the Wretched
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Traitor are very likely looking forward to the release of this record just as much as fans are too. This is possibly an understatement owing to how No Hope For The Wretched, the band’s first full length release, has been ten years in the making. Formed back in 2012 around Pennsylvania, United States, Traitor follow the old school tradition of metal that is everything fast and heavy. Speed is everything to Traitor as this record is bound to unveil. Their first Demo, Delaware Destroyers, was released in 2014, and it wouldn’t be until four years until they would release their self-titled EP. A Split followed in 2018 too, but another four years would pass before Traitor would finally release what we have now: their first full length album titled No Hope For The Wretched. I was pretty curious about these guys, I had never heard of them before and knew zero information regarding them. Let’s take a bash at this then.

Traitor may have a pretty rudimentary approach to speed metal, but I will give them additional points for a decent bass presence throughout their sound. Some speed metal acts, I find, can be a little airy with their sound owing to how they may not focus much on keeping their sound grounded and therefore, keeping their audiences fully and thoroughly engaged. But while the riffs are playing and the vocals are doing what you’d expect them to do, the drums are working hard away at giving you the impact you’d most want to find from Traitor. It’s great to acknowledge how strong the bass drums actually are, granted they’re not looking to pummel and consume your attention but they’re strong enough to lend additional power to the band’s overall performance. This isn’t a performance that’s merely playing in some empty, hollow room; the drums do a quality job at bringing the band to a greater level of power.

I will give Traitor some more points because while they’re evidently going for a speed-heavy approach, they haven’t just sacrificed songwriting nor the needs of the audience for it. I’ve listened to speed metal records before where this has been the case, the songwriting has come off with zero impact and therefore you lose interest completely. Traitor have not forgotten about songwriting. Their approach to speed metal absolutely has songwriting and structure in mind, they may be playing with speed and an old school style but you’re still able to enjoy what is happening in the moment, all the more so because you can see somewhat were they’re taking you. So, we have a speed metal record that recognises the need to root itself to the ground as well as keep the audience guessing what is coming next. It’s not often to see a competently written speed metal album.

Album Review: Traitor – Last Hope For the Wretched

I’m impressed with the vocal performance herein. Often when you have a speed metal record, the speed element is shared throughout the instrumentation and vocals so you might have an album that features vocals moving at blistering speeds. That’s why it’s a nice change to experience vocals that are not only easy to understand but are pretty down to earth with the pacing they’re performed at. The vocals don’t rush us by, the band give us a delivery that’s straight forward to comprehend. It allows us to really listen in on what the vocals are saying, drawing us further and deeper into what the band have to offer. There’s also a keen storytelling element to the band’s vocals too in that Iron Maiden-style of songwriting; the vocals aren’t just there for necessity but feel to offer some theatrical aspect that gives the songwriting a greater dimension of purpose.

I thoroughly enjoyed how compact the band wished their album to sound. We’ve covered how the band wanted an album that’s ripping yet one the audience could still follow, but it’s worth noting how the production hasn’t resulted in a tinny sounding, light affair. The overall vibe of this record is one rooted in traditional metal, it just so happens that the band adopted a speed metal style for this particularly produced album. What this means is the band can play at faster than regular speeds for what the audience can come to them for, but it’s offset against a production that’s more compact and dense than most speed metal acts would usually possess. If anything, this choice resulted in an album that’s harder hitting and memorable than other speed metal records precisely because the album’s production has lent this firmer grip on how the band’s riffs feel to us.

In conclusion, by the time this album came to its end I was pleasantly surprised by what Traitor managed to do here. This isn’t just “another speed metal album”, rather it’s a speed metal album whereby the band have gone into its writing knowing exactly what was needed and how they may implement the best possible performance. Some records in this style may be easily forgettable but Last Hope For The Wretched happily doesn’t fall into this category. When it comes to speed metal, this album is certainly one of the more solid and competent examples. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any degree but all the pieces the band put into place paid off in the right, and necessary, ways. A roaring and old school time to be had, Last Hope For The Wretched is an album you find yourself being happily surprised by what they’re willing to deliver.

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