‘Twas really rare for a thrash band to debut on a major label. But the late eighties were the salad days of thrash. Yes indeed, thrash metal was a genre once thought to be commercially viable. Can you believe it? But it wasn’t to be. Not for Wrathchild America. But back in those crazy salad days, somebody at Atlantic Records thought Wrathchild America might make it big, and signed them. Good on that guy! (He was probably fired shortly thereafter.)
Wrathchild America was a talented Maryland band that had been around for quite a while (known only as Wrathchild before their debut). Climbin’ The Walls is a very good album. At times, downright kick-ass! The first half of the album is fine and dandy. Not mind-blowing, but some good stuff. Vocalist (and bassist) Brad Divens conveyed a kind of smug, snot-nosed vibe. The lyrics, on the surface, were quite cliché (devils, boning, vampires, insanity… the usual suspects), but I think it was all meant to be a little sarcastic. More of a satire on heavy metal norms than anything else. However, most reviews I’ve read for Climbin’ The Walls seem to take the lyrics at face value, which, in my opinion, misses the point. The drumming on Climbin’ The Walls was performed by Shannon Larkin, who had been with the band since its inception in the late seventies. Great drumming by Larkin. He later joined Ugly Kid Joe (a cool band with a similarly sarcastic edge), and then Godsmack (huh?). Check out this old clip I found on YouTube documenting Wrathchild (America) before they were signed. Pretty cool.
The second half of this album really kicks it into high gear! Silent Darkness (Smothered Life) houses the album’s most infectious main riff. Damn I love this song! Time is a Pink Floyd cover that stays true to the original. I’m not a real fan of covers, but this one is in such stark contrast to the rest of the album that it makes for an interesting sojourn. The finale of Climbin’ The Walls is a real gem of a tune called Day Of The Thunder. This one has a very strong chorus and a great vocal. It is absolutely my favorite track on the album. My score: B+