Kyuss - Wretch 2LP Vinyl

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Side One

  1. (Beginning of What's About to Happen) HWY 74
  2. Love Has Passed Me by
  3. Son of a Bitch
  4. Black Widow

Side Two

  1. Katzenjammer
  2. Deadly Kiss
  3. The Law

Side Three

  1. Isolation
  2. I'm Not
  3. Big Bikes

Side Four

  1. Stage III

Release Date: 

Label: Dali Records

Origin: Germany

Although it doesn’t have the sheer psychedelic awesomeness of the following albums, Wretch is a bit of an underrated gem from Homme, Oliveri, Bjork and Garcia, better known as Stoner Rock godfathers Kyuss. Al did a pretty grand job summing the band’s history up in his review of the excellent Welcome To Sky Valley, so I’ll avoid repeating it and just say that where other albums are the sound of a band getting stoned out in the desert whilst listening to Sabbath, Wretch is the sound of the same band rocking the hell out in the garage.

Whilst getting stoned.

Erm, and listening to Sabbath.

Gah, fine, so Kyuss circa 1991 were pretty damn similar to Kyuss circa 1992, the only thing truly changing the quality of the songwriting, but it’s impossible to deny that Wretch has more than a touch of Garage Rock to it. Check opener Beginning Of What’s About To Happen... HWY 74 for proof, kicking off with riff upon riff and speed-drenched attitude. It may not be the classy groove of Blues From The Red Sun’s Thumb, but heck, if it doesn’t make you headbang like a baby monkey from a PETA advert then the problem lies not with the band. Wretch is best summed up as the best brainless rock album that exists; enjoying its pleasures is possible even if you’re listening with half an ear whilst busy with other things, whilst later albums need your undivided attention to truly appreciate. The songwriting is pretty simplistic for most of the songs present, Kyuss being concerned with nothing but rocking the listener’s socks.

And socks are duly rocked! Love Has Passed Me By continues in the path wrought by its forefather, a rather awesome solo coming and going before you know it, whilst Son Of A Bitch slows the pace down to Doom levels, big riffs and rolling drums that build up to near-epic levels as Garcia yells the distinctly odd lyrics. It speeds up a bit towards the end, having a similar effect to the moments when Cathedral kick into gear – a compliment indeed. The almost droning riffage of Black Widow hints at the later groove that post-Kyuss projects like Queens Of The Stone Age and Hermano would hit, and the members’ Black Flag fandom comes to light with the likes of the punky Katzenjammer. As good as stompers like Deadly Kiss are, it’s on the seven-minute The Law that hints of future glories really come to light, as the track builds into a near-proggy mix of killer instrumentation, especially from Homme. He’s very underrated as a guitarist, QOTSA perhaps not the best medium for him to show off in, but anyone at all au fait with Kyuss’ discography will appreciate the man’s ability to kick out the jams with the best.

As varied as the quality of songwriting can be, from the good (I’m Not) to the bad (Big Bikes, the album’s one weak spot) it’s pretty hard to dislike Wretch once it’s on. When compared to later Kyuss releases, however, it does suffer – the best moments here are just the beginning of what’s about to happen, after all, and as good as closing blast Stage III is, it’s ultimately just the introduction to the next album when all is said and done. Still, let’s be objective and assume that Blues... et al don’t exist – when looked at in its own merits, Wretch is a great deal of fun, and will please any Stoned Rocker that dares to sample its wares. If you’ve never heard Kyuss, then start elsewhere, but if you’re one of the surprisingly numerous people that enjoy the band and haven’t heard this, it’s more than worth revisiting. - Goat (