War Without End

Slayer, Dark Angel, D.R.I., Deliverance, Tourniquet, etc.). Musically, the band is similar to many of the other thrash bands making noise right now, blending the Teutonic sounds of Kreator and Sodom with the Bay Area sounds of Exodus and Slayer, with a small nod to the mosh ethic of S.O.D. or Anthrax.

The band is quite proficient at what they do. Grab your patch clad denim vest, Dark Angel t-shirt, and mosh it up! Warbringer are thrash for thrash sake and proud of it. They have a retro sound and even a vintage sounding recording. While the recording is clear and the drums sound triggered, the overarall recording is still raw and thrashy. Warbringer are not tuning down their guitars two or three full steps to achieve a heavy  sound, but rather write fast, pummeling riffs that indeed are heavy. The vocals also have that classic thrash sound and are mostly barked out in the classic speed metal yell like Slayer, Dark Angel, Sodom, etc.

Where Warbringer fall flat on their debut is in the lack of variety in the songwriting and the fact that they sound much like every other retro thrash band on the scene right now. It took me several listens to begin to separate the songs and begin to appreciate them on their own, as opposed to just hearing one long speed metal conglomerate. Unless anyone listening is a tried and true fan of speed and thrash metal, the subtleties that separate the riffs, songs, and techniques may be totally lost. In other words, the songs lack the charisma and flare that make them stand out unless you specifically look for them. For the most part this is due to the fact that each and every song is played at breakneck speed. This seems to be the case with many of the young thrash bands right now. It’s thrash for thrash sake while hooks, individuality and songwriting takes a backseat. In time, as this band matures, I am sure the songwriting will offer more variety and hook.

“War Without End” is a sufficient thrash metal album from a promising new band and a good debut from a band that will surely get better with each new release.

Warbringer Warbringer - IV: Empires Collapse (Century Media) 2013

1. Horizon (3:57)
2. The Turning of the Gears (2:45)
3. One Dimension (4:09)
4. Hunter-Seeker (3:54)
5. Black Sun, Black Moon (3:10)
6. Scars Remain (4:27)
7. Dying Light (4:47)
8. Iron City (3:28)
9. Leviathan (4:41)
10. Off with their Heads! (1:36)
11. Towers of the Serpent (4:25)

1.   Living Weapon (06:55)
2.   Severed Reality (04:17)
3.   Total War (04:26)
4.   Systematic Genocide (05:04)
5.   Dread Command (03:22)
6.   Hell on Earth (03:46)
7.   At the Crack of Doom (04:08)
8.   Beneath the Waves (04:31)
9.   Instruments of Torture (03:33)
10. Shoot to Kill (03:59)
11. Born of the Ruins (04:45)
12. Combat Shock (05:33)
13. Living in a Whirlwind (03:35)
14. Treacherous Tongue (03:55)
15. Making of “IV: Empires Collapse” / Studio Report (04:34)
16. European Tour 2012 / Road Movie (20:14)                              

2013 has been a great year for heavy metal. With great new releases from Annihilator, Death AngelGama BombAccuser and Havok, among others, it's been an especially great year for thrash metal. Add to that list the new album by Warbringer. Though I am a big fan of the whole retro-thrash movement of the past decade, there are some band's whose sound was all "thrash-for-thrash-sake" and unfortunately those albums didn't become frequent players. Warbringer are one of those band's whose sound lacked personality and charisma on their debut. It was all about speed, speed and more speed. With the band's fourth full-length album these California retro-thrashers take a gigantic step forward from those days.

Though this album is thrash metal through and through the band has added a host of other influences; classic heavy metal, some blackened influences, some borderline death metal moments and a punk rock ethic. It's even possible that the I hear some noticeable hooks on this album. "The Turning of the Gears" immediately had my head bobbing, as did "Hunter Seeker". (No this is not a Powermad cover, though that would have been cool.) Part of the reason for this may be the new musicians in the band. Only vocalist John Kevill and guitarist John Laux remain from the "War Without End" debut.  The improved songwriting is helped by a nearly flawless recording and production. John Kevill’s vocals are mostly standard fare thrash barking. On past albums his "scream like a banshee" approach didn't really give him much room for charisma or personality. That ethic continues on "Empires Collapse" but he seems to be adding some more personality and at moments reminds me of  Mark Oseguedo (Death Angel) and more often, Mille Petrozza (Kreator). "IV: Empires Collapse" is a huge step forward from the band's early efforts. Warbringer is carving our their own identity and "IV: Empires Collapse" won't easily be confused with the hordes of other neo-thrashers. 

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