Review: “Shaped by Human Frailty” by Strangle Wire

Hailing from Belfast, Strangle Wire are a band who self describe as playing Psychological Death Metal, specializing in lyrical concepts attempt to capture the darker parts of the human condition. Their first single “Narcissism” premiered in 2017 and was swiftly followed by their debut album “The Dark Triad” a year later, the qualities of which opened doors to both high profile shows and festival appearances including Decimation Fest in Madrid, Las Vegas Deathfest (which also included a 14 date US run with Haemorrhage) and of course Bloodstock Open Air. Four years after their initial stab in the dark, laced with fast paced groove laden riffs, where does sophomore record “Shaped by Human Frailty” find them?

The floor is opened up by “Heavily Medicated” which is as strong an opening cut as any band could wish for, pummelling rhythmic percussion battery from John Curlett and sinister edged riffs from Ross Duffy driving the groove laden cut along at a decent pace while the vocals split the skull like a hatchet once buried. Chugging, syncopated rhythms are the order of the day with the band sounding tighter and perhaps even more relentless than before. Blast beats bring “Learned Wretchedness” to life alongside the dark horrors of frontman Pete Clarke’s lyrics which twist and contort along with his throat splitting vocal prowess. While neither of the first two cuts have any solos about them, instead they dial down the darkness with complex technical rhythms that are performed like a well oiled machine. Staccato riff breaks and some anvil heavy almost but not quite breakdown sections give “Judas Switch” fresh dark energy for the lyrical narrative to take hold, a short piece of lead adding to the verve and swagger of this one. It’s not quite the lightening bolt from a wrathful God that you might have expected, but its enough to quench the thirst in the dry desert heat. There are a few moments when the bands influences are worn on their sleeves here and this is one with touches of Bolt Thrower, Deicide and even Benediction stylings bleeding through the bandages at various points. “The Human Tensile Experiment” builds on that moment of lead with a menacing edge accompanying the whirlwind of percussive battery that rains down like a metronomic meteor storm, each big chunk of anvil heavy Metal creating a bigger crater in the Earth and crushing skulls as it does so.

A mid album breather in the melancholic instrumental “An Abhorrent Intervention” makes for a moment of calm at the eye of the storm that splits the record clean in half. The audio equivalent of the smell of fresh napalm in the morning it allows the smoke to clear meaning that the album title track has a greater impact when it hits. The not quite the cut on the record but arguably the most epic, “Shaped By Human Frailty” is graced by a fine solo while being steeped in atmosphere that shrouds the surroundings in darkness while still packing plenty of punch. It’s all about getting the balance right and the band do so by putting a fast one in immediately after it in “Dead Before The Still“. Just as bludgeoning as the earlier cuts, this one feels like the band are holding back just a little to allow for the lyrical narrative to be delivered without losing any of the diction but they make up for that with the rampaging “Psychology Of The Sick” which increases the tempo still with some fretboard smoking moments and Death Thrash leanings. There are even some fills that sound like early Sepultura on offer. The final onslaught of “Horrors Beneath” is the pinnacle of the album, a jewel in the crown. A call to the circle pit, it’s a headbangers delight that sounds like self titled era Chimaira, if they they were joined by George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher on the microphone. A blitz through every sinister urge, menacing element and haunting moment that the band have in their armoury it’s a powerhouse that finishes the album on a high and leaves you feeling like you’ve just witnessed something you’ll never forget… [8/10]

Track Listing

  1. Heavily Medicated
  2. Learned Wretchedness
  3. Judas Switch
  4. The Human Tensile Experiment
  5. An Abhorrent Intervention
  6. Shaped By Human Frailty
  7. Dead Before The Still
  8. Psychology Of The Sick
  9. Horrors Beneath

Shaped by Human Frailty” by Strangle Wire is out 30th September 2023 via Grindscene Records and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp

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