Wrathchild America – “Climbin’ The Walls” (1989)

‘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+

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5 thoughts on “Wrathchild America – “Climbin’ The Walls” (1989)

  1. Cool review….

    Testament was the first thrash band signed to a Major Label. For the July 1987 debut “The Legacy” In 1985-1986 Megaforce singed a distrobution deal with Atlantic Records.

    Thrash was all the rage back in 83-90…So all those labels, thought they would find there own “Metallica” but only Metallica was a PEERLESS band, most bands were stuck to the roots to closely and made Metallica look like the songwriting GENIUS which they are.

    I missed this band back in the day, because my CD player had glued into it a CD called Wargasm “Why Play Around?”

    Good observation on the lyrics…

    Oh I have to say…never sell this CD. I never buy eBay. (except choice mail orders..for choice re-editions) I buy second hand record store, for the older pressing CD’s and since I started CD full-throttle in 1997, yeah I stuck with vinyl until 1997..he he…!!

    And I have never and I mean never saw a used copy of this CD for sale in the last 15 years, so at 150 trips a year to the record store times 15 years…so in the last 2,250 times I have been to the second hand record store. I have not seen this at all…now that is what I call a awesome accomplishment for any band, that all FANS would NEVER sell your albums at all ever. That is cool.

    I love when hyped “classic” albums have 20 or 30 copies for sale USED.

    I can not understand why the Eurpoean WrathChild, had to protest this bands name. Causing them to add a America to there name.

    • Originally had this on cassette. I didn’t get it on CD until 2011, would you believe, when I saw it sitting in the used bin for $7! I guess it was my lucky day. Must be something with Atlantic. They seem to let their stuff go out of print and just don’t care. I remember hunting for the Badlands CD for a while (to no avail… at least for less than $20).

  2. Saw Godsmack open up for Iggy & The Stooges(who I went to see) when they reformed. It was part of some MTV deal. Can’t really remember much of Godsmack except the drummer was incredible! I’m guessing this was Shannon Larkin.

  3. “Originally had this on cassette. I didn’t get it on CD until 2011, would you believe, when I saw it sitting in the used bin for $7! I guess it was my lucky day. Must be something with Atlantic. They seem to let their stuff go out of print and just don’t care. I remember hunting for the Badlands CD for a while (to no avail… at least for less than $20).”

    **********************************************************************************************************

    aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgghhh, your killing me man, I have never seen that ever, in a used store, and you found one for $7 dollars. You were lucky that day, for sure. I have hundreds of those CD’s I though I would never get to own, because of.

    WHO IN THERE RIGHT MIND WOULD SELL (fill in cult classic album here).

    That is why I do to the record store, 3 times a week, either I am always at the beginning of the new USED CD cycle, or at the tail end of that cycle.

    Atlantic is a huge label, they want there artist to sell 3 millon, 30 million or 300 million widget units. If there is a inital press run, and it does not sell that fast enough for a major label, they will turn there attention to something else.

    They probably did a press run of 300, 000 and only sold 30,000, and not enough sales to keep a major label, wanting to repress.

    I never got this back in the day, because I had other interest like Wargasm and Blind Illusion, what 3 bands does this band sound like, in terms of obvious influences… A cross between ? and ? meets ?.

    • In the video clip I linked to in the post, you can see the band in their earlier years. They reference Metallica and Exciter. They also play an Iron Maiden cover. I would say their sound was a mix of Metallica and Maiden and Ugly Kid Joe (yes, I know Ugly Kid Joe came after, but it’s a familiar point of reference). At least that’s what I am thinking when I hear this album.

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