Although New Jersey’s CHMCL STR8JCKT’s debut suffered from a lack of finesse on the technical side of things, it was a confident effort that demonstrated the band’s propensity for the classic sounds of late ‘80s/early ‘90s industrial/rock. Listening to WRTCHD THNGS, it’s clear the band learned a few lessons by not only employing the production savvy of the esteemed John Bechdel and also the mastering skills of Maor Appelbaum, but also by sharpening the actual songwriting. The WaxTrax! influence was rather clear before, but the prevalence of funkier bass grooves throughout the album is all the more effective on WRTCHD THNGS; the keyboards and programmed rhythms pulsate with a distinctly acerbic vitality, and while the vocals mostly eschew melody in favor of Kevin Snell’s throaty punklike grit, the songs are decidedly catchy regardless. This writer would challenge any listener not to sing along to the refrains of “Ode to Peckinpah (Bloody Sam),” “The Only Thing That’s Real,” or “Bomb Cyclone” – they just plant their hooks into you immediately, with that latter track being a particularly fun moment on the record, even if it is too damn short. Mike Cairoli’s guitar riffs are planted very firmly in the straightforward assaults of ‘90s coldwave, once again bringing to mind the likes of The Aggression and Diatribe, while Ian Omega’s percussion adds just that extra bit of power to the drum programming, most notably on a track like “Black Vulture,” where they along with the synths, samples, and guitar riffs add a dimension of orchestral pomp set to a slow and deliberate horror-like ambience… that is, until the track speeds up into an aggressive and breakneck rock & roll track befitting a grindhouse flick full of hellcat strippers and demonic muscle cars. On top of that, the keyboards in the spooky coda of the song stand as a highlight of the album. Other standouts include the extraordinarily well executed and faithful cover of Aldo Nova’s “Fantasy,” along with “Baphomet,” which brings a certain dark humor to the proceedings with its Satanic prayers and blend of scorching synths and distorted vocals more reminiscent of the terror EBM craze of the early ‘00s, while the guitars give it an old school quality more akin to The Electric Hellfire Club. It simply can’t be understated how much Bechdel’s production has allowed CHMCL STR8JCKT to achieve the next level sound the group needed after the debut, adding refinement and sheen without sacrificing the scathing force – it just sounds better and takes the group further toward achieving a sound of its own. Until then, WRTCHD THNGS is an excellent step in the right direction that the band will, hopefully, keep following.