No. 37

October 01, 2016

Wrathchild America was a heavy metal band formed in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Due to their close proximity and time spent in Maryland, they were considered by Marylanders to be one of their own. The band went through several transformations during the 1980's and 1990's becoming one of the top performing bands that fans still adore to this day. Recently, in the past few years, there has been an outcry of tweaks, posts, and comments from fans hoping and wondering if the day will come for a Wrathchild America reunion.

The band was formed by high school friends, Shannon Larkin, Kevin Keller and Terry Carter. Kevin met Terry after school in band class and was asked to join up with his friend Shannon. The band began with the name Tyrant which later became Wrathchild. Brad Divens was recruited by Kevin Keller who threw business cards at him while he was performing with his band Ratzalad. Jay Abbene then joined the band filling out the final lineup. After years of hard work playing gigs across the United States and Canada, the band was signed to major label Atlantic Records in 1988, however a British glam metal band with the same name Wrathchild sued and forced the delay of the debut release. The dispute went on leading to Kevin Keller leaving the band and Brad Divens assumed the duty of both bassist and vocalist. The band eventually amending their name by adding America and their debut album Climbin' the Walls was released, peaking at #190 on the Billboard 200.

Climbin' The Walls received enough recognition for Atlantic Records to send the guys back into the studio for a second album and their album 3-D was released in 1991. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun in 1991 Shannon Larkin said "We've always been a live band. It's hard to explain, but we just love to play. Even if we're off, we'll play in the garage. It's just something we do." Touring was a great way to build a reputation, but as the band discovered when it began work on its first album, "Climbin' the Walls," club work did nothing to prepare Wrathchild for the recording studio. Larkin admitted "We were so green when we did the first one. We'd toured for six years, and only went into a studio one time, to do the demo that got us signed. Then we got a major deal, went into a major studio, and ended up putting out an album that sounded majorly bad." The band learned many lessons and progressed the second time in the studio, recording their follow up album 3-D which was heavier and more diverse. Larkin credits the band's rapid improvement to a change in its writing routine. "Before, when we were touring constantly, a song would be written by one person and just brought to the rest of the guys," he explained. "Whereas this time, we actually got two months off to get together, go into a garage, and write. So that's why we showed more of our talent musically."

The band fell victim of the emerging alternative music scene which grew big in the early 90's on the heels of bands such as Nirvana. Their second album 3-D did not receive the recognition or sales anticipated, leading to the band being dropped from Atlantic Records. It was the end of Wrathchild America who were called competent but a rather unoriginal thrash metal quartet. I beg to differ. While their music at times touched upon being cliche, I always thought he music was good and Brad Diven's voice was unique to the band. Despite the setback, the band members perservered, defined a new sound, and emerged as Souls at Zero with a new home at Energy Records. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1993, followed by Six-T-Six in 1994. It was at this time that drummer Shannon Larkin, looking for greater reward, left the band to join Ugly Kid Joe. Jamie Miller replaced Larkin in Souls at Zero who went on to record their third album, A Taste For The Perverse. Not able to reach the next level and frustrated with the industry, it was the end for Souls at Zero, the end of these musicians together as a group, and the end of an era.

Shannon Larkin who is one bad ass drummer went from Ugly Kid Joe to do three albums with the band Amen, then to the band Snot, and ultimately ending up getting the dream call from Sully Erna, becoming drummer for Godsmack. Jay Abbene had a brief stiint in Crowbar before he joined former Toxik drummer Tad Leger in 2005 on a project named Lucertola. Terry Carter became involved in country music and is performing on Florida's west coast. Brad Divens went on to secure an ongoing production contract with the Finnish rock band HIM. He has also worked as front of house sound engineer for acts such as Linkin Park, Cyndi Lauper, and Slayer.

So the question looms and fans want to know, will there be a Wrathchild America reunion show ? So far it doesn't appear so. Some of the members have made comments on social media that would suggest there won't be. It seems they are all in others places in their lives and have no ambition to reunite for a show. Sometimes things change so you never. Until then fans will just have to continue hoping that maybe they'll get to see these iconic musicians share the stage once again.

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