Many men and women find themselves asking—themselves, the world, God above, anyone who will listen—who can redeem the ravaged state of disrepair that plagues our society and global community today? This question, in its most rudimentary form, is little more than a modern adaptation of the age-old adage: O Wretched man that I am, who can save me from this body of death?
While the question itself is humbling and eye-opening all at once, the answer can be just as staggering. And it is from the dialectic nature of the depressive and dreary question and the potentially enlightening—or damning—answer that the metallic ensemble O Wretched Man derive both their namesake and their dynamic of dismal darkness and ethereal, orchestral aural illumination.
Founded from the core of a frigid Wisconsin Winter in 2009, O Wretched Man began as a progressive death metal outfit with blackened and orchestral elements ornately woven between their bold and blistering intense instrumental elements. However, as the band began to develop their sonic identity, a lineup change encouraged them to re-write much of their existing material in the absence of keyboards and programmed elements—resulting in the release of their debut three-track demo, The Decomposing Shrine. While this release served as a solid interim for the band, it did little to fulfill their long-term goals of including atmospheric elements and moments of tranquil-yet-haunting ethereality by way of orchestral piano; a goal achieved by the permanent addition of Erik O’Reilly. While O’Reilly’s addition added a firmament to their sound by means of brilliant and bold keyboards and piano, the time that followed—during the writing and recording of their debut full-length release, Path of the Seeker—was a tumultuous one where O Wretched Man struggled to find a permanent drummer. After much dismay, A Hill To Die Upon’s R. Michael Cook shouldered the task of completing studio drumming for the band’s debut album, enabling its completion.
O Wretched Man answer the age old question that serves as their namesake by examining the path that makes man wretched and attempting to discern the tasks that may redeem him. On one hand, O Wretched Man take brooding and bitter black metal and blend it with folk elements to make it simultaneously entrancing and depressive; putting the wretched in O Wretched Man. On the other hand, their progressive and orchestral elements are invigorating and uplifting, combining technicality and brilliant song structure to capture and hold the listener’s attention hostage. With lyrical concepts that span the human condition and everything that it touches, O Wretched Man define the dialectic story of soul and body; spirit and flesh or the Ego and Id at odds with each other—but whether the Wretchedness of man or the sanctity of spirit wins is entirely up to the listener.