The Wring is a 4-piece band from Northern Ontario, Canada. Not so far north that dogsleds or polar bears are ubiquitous, but far enough north that shovelling snow is a more frequent event than pretty much anything else. Or so it seems.
Our music would not be possible without references. So we thank Rush for making everything ok back in 1976. We thank Metallica for firing Dave Mustaine; a world without Megadeth would have been unimaginably desolate. We thank Mikael Akerfeldt for deciding that it is entirely proper to mix unlikely intervals and articulation with traditional ‘metal’. We thank the 80’s for Dan. We thank Brann, Troy, Bill & Brent for the new millennium.
There are so many more.
Listen to our music.
The Wring is guitar, bass, drums and vocals. There are 10 or 15 seconds of piano which does not bear mentioning. There are a handful of crazy sounds and effects courtesy of our bass alchemist. No computers. Vocals and harmonies are all just as recorded. No auto tune. We don’t really know how to do that.
We are going to play some shows. Hopefully you’ll come and watch. But for now…
Coming out of nowhere with a completely experienced, well produced and polished debut record full of complex compositions and dynamics for vocals, guitar, bass and drums is Sudbury's newest best kept secret: The Wring.
To describe The Wring as merely a Hard Rock band is an extremely misleading label. There is a lot going on musically on this album and it can be quite condensed in parts as all the instruments fire on all cylinders. Often taking off in all different directions at once, you can single out the guitars, drums and bass consistently. The bass is often off doing it's own thing, playing private melodies under the vocals and during quieter moments while the guitars and drums play their matching riffs and fills. In fact one of my favorite things about giving this album a spin is listening to Jason Henrie's bass guitar, it is always clear in the mix, often distorted and plays some of the best riffs on the record.
So the sound - everyone wants points of reference so I'll get right to it. When I hear this album, I hear notes of Opeth and Tool. There are analogue synths. There's old Rush. There are some moments that transport you back to the 70's great progressive albums. Guitarist Don Dewulf definitely gives an amazing performance throughout the entire album. The guitars are heavy and everywhere, permeating the mix, crisp and crunchy, chugging along and riffing hard in a lot of the songs or chord filled and shimmery when the moment requires it, holding down a great background to the vocals. Rob Straughan's drumming holds it all together, strong and loud but never overbearing, mixed well, with progressive time signatures, groovy hi-hat work and great thoughtful fills peppered everywhere within the songs structures. Some of the fill/riff combos are quite awesome. The solo work all over the album is amazing as well and not just guitars, the bass and drums all have their moments in the spotlight. The opening guitar solo section in the 2nd track Sticks & Stones has a striking resemblance to Santana and then crescendos into a sweeping arpeggiated swirl before disappearing into a mist of 70's keyboards and music that sounds like something off the second side of Rush's Hemispheres - before wrapping it up with a pure, in your face Heavy Metal ending. It's the songwriting versatility that makes this record stand out. This is more than verse chorus verse chorus songwriting. The compositions are strong and so are the performances.
Vocalist Dan MacDonald is pitch perfect and he's great because he has a unique voice. His timber stays mostly in the midrange and he's definitely solidly in the realm of Rock/Metal Singer. He's gravelly voiced, snarls like old Dave Mustaine and can be quite angry sounding but he also has a higher pitch down for singing the more anthemic chorus moments. I have a hard time comparing him to anyone I know though, which is a good thing. Once they put out some more material, that voice will help them stand out.
Like all good progressive albums, this is meant to be listened to from start to finish, not in some random playlist and is crying out for a vinyl release. With that said, if I had to describe the journey song by song, here we go:
The Wring: A perfect introduction, an overview of what you are in for in more detail. They clear the air with the chugging intro riff and then they proceed to try to trick you into thinking they are a conventional band for the next couple minutes. A solid verse kicks in followed by a perfectly catchy chorus that gets stuck in your head right away. And then halfway through the song, they begin showing you who they truly are...
Sticks & Stones: When this songs starts, it could be anything, it could be the 80's and they are opening for The Police. It's a very radio friendly moment that quickly goes not-radio-friendly and suddenly into a wondrously heavy 70's prog rock masterpiece. One of the strongest songs on the album, I know why they put it second on the track list.
Rain: A solid mid tempo rocker - until halfway through when they go Full Opeth until coming back to the chorus. Also a completely solid song that, if they cut out the best part, the middle, I could see on regular radio rotation.
Victims: Another song rooted firmly in that heavy 70's prog rock with tones of Sabbath or Dio, sitting in a dark basement with candles, a record player and smoke everywhere. This song also contains my favorite moment on the entire record at exactly the 3 minute mark. It happens all too fast, but it's amazing while it lasts.
Thrall: Starts off sounding like Tool. Then again, those vocals come in to break any comparisons to other bands quickly and remind you you are listening to The Wring and nothing but. One of the more standard songs on the album songwriting wise. Totally solid and heavy - this where they earn the label Hard Rock.
Third Bass: I bet this song rips live. Really cool riffage all over this song, lots of heavy moments and an awesome ending. A bit out there musically, you can tell we're getting near the end of the record where the weirder songwriting bits usually end up.
Down: One of the best songs on the record. Heavy as shit, great breakdown and solo section and distorted-bass on full display and grooving hard. This is Heavy Rock done right.
Eclipse: The best song on the album. I like to believe the title is a nod to the name of the last track on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon, another masterpiece, but it could be coincidence. It's weird, heavy, complicated, full of imagery about space, has a David Bowie quality to the vocals, a Frank Zappa / math metal breakdown in the middle and the oddliest catchy "chorus" I've heard in awhile. The album fades out on one of those heavy closing riffs that just never ends.
I give this album a solid 63 out of the 67 moons of Jupiter, including all four Galilean moons. Highly recommend it for fans Tool, Opeth, Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, or if you listened to your dad's records growing up.
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