When most people think of the California alternative rock scene of the early 90's, they think of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Jane's Addiction, and other established L.A. alt bands that were being waved around like a banner for the alternative nation to gather under. But if you lived near Palm Desert, then the name Kyuss immediately springs to mind. After gathering a cult following by playing shows in the middle of the desert, using gas generators for power, they decided it was time to put out their debut album.
'Wretch', released in 1991, is the sonic lovechild of Metallica, Danzig, and Black Sabbath. With heavily distorted, chugging guitars, guitarist Josh Homme shows off his heavy metal roots. Although not the downtuned, bass-ridden tone he would later make famous on releases like 'Blues for the Red Sun' and 'Welcome to Sky Valley', his guitar sound makes good use of traditional metal distortion and techniques. The bass and drums, on the other hand, have yet to reach the maturity they would find on later releases, and sound incredibly weak and generic. The songwriting also leaves something to be desired, as a lot of songs on this album sound much too derivative of their influences, although Garcia's vocals manage to save them from sounding plagiarized rather than derivative.
Althought thats not to say theres no good tracks on this album. Balls-to-the-wall rockers like 'Love Has Passed Me By', and 'The Law' show a side of kyuss that is unfortunately never captured again in their later work, while down-tempo grooves like 'I'm Not' and 'Son of a Bitch' lay down the foundation for the psychadelic sludge metal that would become their trademark sound.
While this is by no means a bad album, it's not the best Kyuss album out there, and it would be wise to get familiar with their other material before attempting a listen through to this one, or the songs might blur together. But if you already dig Kyuss or Sleep, or even early Metallica or Danzig, give this album a try.