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Anyone who's read my reviews will know that I'm not a big fan of thrash. It's a stubbornly non-evolving genre, and I like a little evolution. To make an impression on me, a thrash album has to be truly great. So it was with trepidation that I picked up Warbeast's Krush the Enemy after Metallattorney called it the best thrash album of 2010.
Warbeast is made up of Texas thrashers who have been around for a long time, and they're signed to Phil Anselmo's Housecore Records. Though they clearly have the chops of guys with a lot of experience, they also have that indefinable hunger that allows some younger bands to release inredible debuts. The music is not the mid-paced fare of old thrashers like recent Sodom or Death Angel--it's punishingly fast in every song. But they do take time to slow down and provide some melody for a few brief seconds here and there, providing a much-needed contrast that keeps the music from becoming one big blur.
Every instrument is expertly played and well-produced, making it feel like a superb live performance rather than a Pro Tools chopped-up and sanitized affair. As with all thrash metal, the guitar is clearly the star of the game, playing solo after solo after solo, and each one of them is interesting. The vocals remind me of Lair of the Minotaur, and the lyrics tend toward violence with a measure of misogyny.
Highlights include the title track, "Blackened Heart", and "Scorched Earth Policy", but every track is worth listening to. My only complaint is the awkward chorus in "Self Will Run Riot", but the opening bassline saves the song from being a disaster.
The Verdict: I don't usually listen to much thrash, but when it's really damn good, I'll make an exception. I'll make an exception for Warbeast's Krush the Enemy.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Texas thrashers, Warbeast, started playing together in 2006 under the name Texas Metal Alliance. They originally formed as a sort of cover band using material from the members' previous projects to play a benefit concert for a friend who was involved in a motorcycle accident. Although various veterans of the DFW metal scene played live with Texas Metal Alliance for the benefit show, the true core of the band decided to carry on and began writing original material. They were signed to Phil Anselmo's Housecore label on the strength of their demo, and they soon changed their name to the more appropriate Warbeast.
Krush the Enemy, Warbeast's debut release, crushes not only the enemy, but all who dare to get in its path. They utilize their veteran expertise, attention to detail, and a powerful modern production job (courtesy of Anselmo himself) to show today's younger thrash bands how it's done. Members of Warbeast have spent time playing with classic DFW thrash acts like Rigor Mortis and Gammacide, so they know the ropes. Bruce Corbitt (also of Rigor Mortis) does not sing; he commands you to listen. His trademark yell has only been beefed-up and improved upon since his early Rigor Mortis days. The guitars are catchy and straight-forward, but never boring. The interaction between guitarists Rick Perry and Scott Shelby (both Gammacide members) is one of the strongest aspects of the album. These guys work very well in tandem. They compliment each other in a way that can only be accomplished by playing together for numerous years. The guitar work probably shines the most overall on "Born With a Blackened Heart." This song displays Warbeast's strong melodic sense throughout its duration and is filled with awesome traded guitar solos. Actually, the guitarists often trade blistering solos back and forth on the album, which helps keep the energy level of the songs at a fever pitch. Harmonies in both the solos and the riffs on Krush the Enemy also add a real sense of finesse. The ghost of classic Slayer manifests itself in random places throughout this release. For instance, it can be heard in the solos of "Scorched Earth Policy" and in the harmonized riff near the end of "Self Will Run Riot." In fact, Kerry and Jeff should be embarrassed if they hear "Scorched Earth Policy" because Warbeast can pull off Slayer better than the real Slayer can these days. The guitars on Krush the Enemy have a thick, yet clear tone that allows all of their nuances to be heard easily. Minor details like the subtle pinch harmonics in the main riff of "Guardian Angel" and rhythmic use of the whammy bar in "Krush the Enemy" pepper the album with added flavor. These little extras give Krush the Enemy a very professional feel that makes it a cut above many recent thrash releases.
The rhythm section also does more than its fair share to make Krush the Enemy such an excellent album. Alan Bovee (also of Gammacide) handles the bass and generally follows the rhythm guitars. However, he has the chance to truly stand out in "Self Will Run Riot," most notably during the bass intro. He also plays some bad ass off-kilter harmonies with the guitars in "The Plague at Hand." Another main source of Warbeast's power comes from drummer Joe Gonzalez. He also pounds the skins in Dallas death metal band, Demonseed. Gonzalez blends his death metal sensibilities with classic thrash drumming for a powerful combo. Tight-as-hell, high-tempo thrash drumming is his weapon of choice on Krush the Enemy. However, thumping double-bass drums add a heavy bottom end to many of the songs and blast beats even make a brief appearance in "Self Will Run Riot."
On Krush the Enemy, all of Warbeast's members contribute just the right ingredients to create a nearly flawless thrash achievement. There are really no song highlights because the whole album is so consistent. Thrash fans both young and old should enjoy Krush the Enemy. Like recent Exodus releases, this album is the perfect blend of old-school know-how and a powerful modern production. The members of Warbeast are a commanding presence both on record and on stage, proving that they can hang with nearly any thrash band out there today. If you ever have the chance to see them live, don't pass it up. They will tear you a new one with no apologies. In the meantime, check out Krush the Enemy if you want a one hundred percent fun and crushingly heavy thrash album. I can't recommend it enough to serious thrash fans.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com