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As genres go, thrash metal has always generated more questions than answers. At first, it was questions like "Can we go faster?" and "Thrash or chug?" but now we've come to the point where the thrash revival has brought back some more head-scratchers. For example, "What is thrash - a style or a movement?" or "Do we really need more thrash bands?" I understand that I'm a few years off the boil in addressing this point (sums up my entire musical history), though to estimate the quality of an album like this, the question of originality is just as important as those of enjoyment and skill. One thing that we can do which adds an extra dimension to this discussion is to scrutinize the more recent output of the "real" (by which I mean 80s) thrash bands and weigh it up against the young pretenders in Municipal Waste, Bonded by Blood, and, of course, Warbringer. Objectively, the newer bands are doing more for the thrash genre than Slayer and Exodus and Destruction, while we shouldn't even mention Metallica, who have dropped out of the picture entirely. Thus, although the modern thrashers are largely retreading old ground, the traditional thrashers have mostly lost their way or abandoned the style, aside from Kreator, Overkill, and Sodom, who are still doing pretty well - so perhaps thrash does need Warbringer.
From my own opinion, I have always thought that thrash metal has rather a limited bag of tricks, meaning that the success of its deployment is down to the effectiveness of those tropes rather than any kind of experimentation or progress. On 'Waking into Nightmares', Warbringer are very successful at using the basic thrash template to create a strong effect on the listener, arguably getting all the basic tricks right and adding in a few subtleties of their own. First of all, the riffs are good, with a very meaty guitar tone that chugs heavily like latter-day Exodus. Although there are plenty of mid-paced riffs, the band accelerates into full-on thrash at times, as well as mixing things up with some electrifying death metal breaks, such as at the close of 'Living in a Whirlwind' or the savagery of 'Forgotten Dead'. The remarkable bass presence of Ben Bennett has been previously commented on, to which I would like to add my thoughts on the efforts of Nic Ritter on drums. Both were new members for this album and give the album a dense character that squeezes the sound, allowing little space for atmosphere or contemplation, as the weight of percussion and thick guitar presses down on the listener, aside from the eerily empty instrumental 'Nightmare Anatomy'. The drumming is fairly conventional, with some added extreme intensity at times, but the bass is more playful, scraping and glugging like a loose chain against the side of a well, so that there is a very forceful thrust to the tempo changes, in addition to a hazy sense of movement in the background, which is sometimes unnerving.
The basic groundwork is thus done well, with few surprises in the songwriting department. However, the final pieces to the thrash puzzle are usually the leads and vocals, which here are more or less average, though with some notable features. John Kevill has a delivery that doesn't deviate far from the clipped shout of Tom Araya, but with the advantage of a weirdly distorted vibrato, which isn't operatic or melodic in any sense, actually giving the impression that he is morbidly afraid or demented - certainly a great attribute for the themes of madness and destruction. On the other hand, he only has the one trick, so he has to keep the intensity high. This mostly occurs, though he struggles a little in the mid-paced songs. As for the leads, there isn't a lot of remarkable soloing and almost no additional melody to speak of, riffs taking the main focus while each song develops its structure. There are plenty of squealing blasts of noise, though thankfully these guys know how to structure a lead break as well, meaning that there is about 30 seconds of well-planned shredding in each song. 'Senseless Life' deserves a special mention for containing the pick of the leads: the last two minutes of the song deviates from its rather rhythmic opening into a flat-out sprint of a riff with spiralling lead, which is cut off by a verse and leads into a bouncy marching riff; that riff has a bonafide melody added to it and then a final lead (sounding oddly familiar and folky, though I can't quite place it) rounds out the most enjoyable two minutes of the album.
The close of 'Senseless Life' is probably the choicest snippet, but few of the songs here sound poor, even if 'Prey for Death' cruises a bit and 'Shadow from the Tomb' can't be brought easily to mind. The opening pair of 'Jackal' and 'Living in a Whirlwind' are shortest and the most focused, arguably providing the most viciously sustained attack. Also, the cry of "jackal!" after less than a minute of listening marks a great transition into a nice mid-paced section. There isn't a great deal to choose between the songs on here, which is both a strength of 'Waking into Nightmares' and a weakness, since it means that the album is enjoyable throughout, yet doesn't deliver a killer punch, which would transform it from merely a worthy thrash album into a necessary listen for new and old fans alike. As it is, 'Waking into Nightmares' doesn't pander to the past as much as Warbringer's debut, yet doesn't succeed in taking thrash forward either. Good, but won't convince the sceptics.
Warbringer are a band that, by now, need little introduction. Their first album, War WIthout End (WWE), popularity began after the release of their first LP "War Without End," a raw, flawed, heaping pile of thrash metal that left listeners either wanting more or offering criticism. Their second effort, "Waking Into Nightmares," satisfies requests from both sides, employing the same fiery vigor as seen on their previous release. "Waking Into Nightmares" is an entirely different animal from "War Without End." Warbringer's style is polished, bolstered by a very clean production and a superb mixing/mastering, and trade youthful rawness for a polished, refined edge. Every single instrument comes through clearly, allowing the listener to appreciate each instruments' tone.
The guitar work is similar to the style seen on WWE, but with a few changes. Lead guitar work takes more of a back seat, letting the music rely more on the hooks and swings of the rhythm guitar. Of particular notice is the guitar tone. It is an improvement over the last and helps to create the enveloping, dark atmosphere on this release - particularly shining through on "Severed Reality" and "Scorched Earth," and "Prey For Death." The tone, by itself, comes across as a little thin, so it benefits from, as well as compliments, the added low end from the drums and bass guitar. The overall performance from the guitar section is nothing short of phenomenal. The riffs are catchy, melodic, and most are headbangingly fun, like on "Scorched Earth" and "Shadow From The Tomb," while others ascetically emphasize darker emotions.
One of the more admirable qualities of this release is the presence and style of the bass guitar. It is pronounced, rather than buried, in the mix and shines through alongside the other instruments. The tone is a meaty and mechanical bellow that, when combined with Ben Bennet's boisterous play style, adds an aggressive "in-your-face" characteristic to the mix. On lower notes, it adds an engine-like rumble that turns into a roar when combined with a blast beat.
Equally impressive as the bass, the drumming adds its own idiosyncratic style. Nic Ritter manages to maintain a cohesive sound on the album while mixing it up every now and then as well. Carefully poised between precision and feel, he aggressively keeps time in a technical manner throughout every song. "Waking Into Nightmares" is double bass heavy compared to other Warbringer albums, as a result, the music teases at death metal on occasion. Examples of this sound are particularly noticeable on "Prey For Death," "Shadow From The Tomb," and "Forgotten Dead."
Warbringer also do a bit of experimenting on this album, alterations in their instrument playing aside. The distorted production of "Severed Reality" is a nice touch and is befitting of the track's name. Death growls are used for the first time on "Shadow From The Tomb" and add a "WOW" effect, keeping the album's momentum up. There is also the beautifully ominous "Nightmare Anatomy," an instrumental that experiments with a progressive sound and ambient guitar effects.
"Waking Into Nightmares" is an example of the maturation of Warbringer from their youthful, raw beginnings on "War Without End." Significant improvements were made in songwriting, production, and mixing/mastering (thanks Gary Holt), yielding a product that is far superior to their last and providing lasting, genuine appeal.
For Warbringer it all went very quickly, thanks to Myspace they were discovered by the general public and their EP was (rightly so) praised highly everywhere. It was therefore not very surprising that they were picked up by a major label like Century Media not long afterwards, givving them the chance to record their debut album. This cd was received with varying criticisms but the general consensus was that it was good but a bit generic. The fans couldn’t care less though and after some very successful tours with Exodus and Kreator, these young wolves of Warbringer are back to do what they do best on this second record, ‘Waking Into Nightmares’, namely thrashing till they drop.
After a first listen it is immediately evident that much progress has been made compared to the previous one. Firstly, the production suits better, every instrument is mixed in perfectly (probably thanks to Gary Holt taking the time to producing this) so this time around you can actually hear bassist Ben Bennet. A nice example of this can be found on their instrumental song "Nightmare Anatomy", where he especially exhibits his art.
The biggest change however, we find back in the guitar-work. The chunky riffs are almost dripping from the CD, it is precisely because of those riffs that Warbringer can distinguish itself from other new thrash groups. Nevertheless, they failed to develop their own unique style, although they mix Bay Area Thrash with Teutonic Thrash, or to be more specific Slayer with Kreator. Also influences from Testament, Destruction and Exodus can be found (Pray For Death could be taken from an old Exodus record). But who can expect originality from a genre that reached its peak back in the 80s? With Waking Into Nightmares Warbringer proves that the aggression and technique of their live performances can also be delivered on their cds. A record where you get what you expect, some very good Thrash metal indeed.
Originally written for progressive violence
Expectations weren't set particularly high for Warbringer's sophomore effort, Waking into Nightmares, in my camp. War Without End was okay the first time, but held absolutely no lasting value and isn't even fun for a romp nearly three years later. It happened, they got exposure, put on a killer live show and garnered a strong fanbase. I'll be the first to admit, Warbringer puts on one hell of a show. Their youthful enthusiasm for their craft is rivaled only be the mighty Diamond Plate, and it really shows when on stage (which is ALL THE DAMN TIME. I swear they were on every remotely thrash tour for at least two and a half solid years). It's just unfortunate that the studio effort fell flat in fully capturing that energy and in turn brought light on the unoriginal thrash that they actually played.
Every problem has been addressed with Waking into Nightmares. The production has been cleaned up and presents one of the better (and most fitting) jobs in modern thrash, the songwriting is more interesting, the band seems more energetic, and everything on the whole just sounds more akin to their famous live show. The energy is conveyed so well on this record that it can actually be difficult to fight the urge to get up and engage in sweaty man bumping when tracks like the ode to the aforementioned mosh pit, "Living in a Whirlwind", start shredding through your speakers. Riff wise, they still aren't the freshest chips in the pantry, but they're the best flavor so it really isn't all that worrisome to indulge yourself regardless. These kids still love the early borderline death metal thrash bands like Slayer and Demolition Hammer, and as such still continue to flatter them by consistently taking cues and borrowing ideas, but they're done in such a way that it's neither thievery nor laziness. It also helps that they're lighter than the aforementioned bands, emulating them mostly through tempo and attitude. Tracks like "Scorched Earth" and "Prey for Death" carry a more second-tier bay area vibe ala Testament or Exodus, while tracks like "Abandoned by Time" and "Shadow from the Tomb" fill themselves with double bass and riffs possibly taken straight from Reign in Blood b-sides. The latter pairing actually ends up being a far better pairing simply because Warbringer is better at taking heaps of influence from Slayer than Testament in the riff department. Now on the flipside, their leads and solos take much more melodic cues, akin to those of the very same second tier California acts whose riffs they aren't all that good at lifting.
Earlier, I mentioned Demolition Hammer, a much smaller name in comparison to the other two bands I've mainly used for comparison, and one may be wondering where that comparison comes from. Simply put, John Kevill must have had Tortured Existence on repeat outside of his crib as an infant, because he grew up to have a voice nearly indistinguishable from the one found on Demolition Hammer's first two records. This isn't even close to a bad thing, considering the vicious snarl is just as awesome in 2009 as it was twenty years ago. The hoarse barks work extremely well with the melodic Slayer mishmash underneath, and any other style of vocals would just feel out of place. The songwriting itself is actually fairly diverse despite heavily taking every cue from a whole two different bands. "Jackal", "Severed Reality", and "Forgotten Dead" are rip roaring thrash numbers that take an equal amount of prisoners as they do shit (hint: it's none), "Shadows from the Tomb", "Senseless Life" and "Abandoned by Time" really harken to Slayer's mid eighties heyday of brutality with an early proto-death edge, and there's even a mellowish instrumental interlude in "Nightmare Anatomy".
I'd say there's something for everybody here, but that isn't quite the truth. Despite the surprising variety and overall energy, everything still basically boils down to this sounding like a super group with Kerry King writing the riffs, Alex Skolnik writing the solos, Dave Lombardo behind the kit, and Steve Reilly on the mic. While that basically sounds like a dream band, it does tend to borrow a little too heavily from the source material. On the whole though, these kids have their hearts in the right place and will probably continue to produce legit thrash metal long after this retro resurgence dies out. Time will only tell if Waking into Nightmares was a fluke, but for now I'm gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and say they're just maturing and will continue to improve.
Originally written for http://lairofthebastard.blogspot.com/
Sound: Warbringer is an up and coming Thrash Metal band from California featuring John Kevill, John Laux, Adam Carroll, Ben Bennett, & Nic Ritter. Many of the (as they are called) Retro Thrash bands are considered to be unoriginal and very boring due to the fact that all they do is try and capture the sound of 80's Thrash bands without adding their own elements. Well Thrashers of the world I have come to tell you of a Thrash album from the 21st Century that actually captures the elements of 80's Thrash and still original. The album is "Waking into Nightmares."
The album's first track, "Jackal," bursts through with a nice little drum intro from Nic Ritter which is followed by a thrash riff that loves to kick your balls in constantly as it thrashes you into oblivion. That is just the first few seconds of the song people. Then Kevill comes in with a roar of a voice that sounds like Paul Baloff and Chuck Schuldiner had a bastard child together. And in between the guitar breaks is Ben Bennett's Metal yet funky basslines that continue throughout the rest of the album, which was something that was missing from the last album. This song ultimately thrashes you to no end. The next track is a nice little thrasher called "Living in a Whirlwind." It too thrashes with it's chugging intro riff and fast paced drums and of course the beast that is John Kevill. "Severed Reality" could be called the first single off the album. The song launches off with a riff that sounds very similar to something from "Soldier of Misfortune" era Sacrifice. Then launches into an equally heavy verse riff with bass and drum fills galore.
Just to save some space, I'll skip the next two tracks, which are thrashers nonetheless, but still not as good as the track "Prey For Death." This song reeks of Demolition Hammer influence. It is a very catchy thrash song that makes you headbang to no end, until it suddenly rapes your soul. And in the middle of the song is a nice guitar breakdown with somewhat of a bass solo from Mr. Bennett which leads into a Megadethy riff that suddenly picks up some more double bass along the way. After this is "Nightmare Anatomy," which is a nice little instrumental piece kind of like Metallica's "Call of Kthulu" meets Strapping Young Lad. After this is "Shadow From the Tomb" which is a track that starts off with a crazy motherf--ker of a riff that launches you into an almost Death Metal riff before going into a drum fill and right into the thrashy yet catchy verse. This song also features some nice death growls from Ben Bennett on this one as well.
The last two songs are "Senseless Life" and "Forgotten Dead" which are some pretty thrashy numbers, the latter being a nice slower thrasher reminding you of "Hell Awaits" era Slayer as it then launches you into total thrashdom. Overall this album gets a 10 because I truly believe this album will be held up in the same position as Slayer's "Hell Awaits," Kreator's "Pleasure to Kill." and Exodus's "Bonded By Blood." So a 100 out of 100 it is. // 100
Lyrics and Singing: Since the album is a thrash album, a lot of the lyrics deal with either A: pretty gruesome situations or B: the way the lyricist looks at something in society, a certain figure, a place, etc.... The song "Jackal" seems to be about some really annoying asshole who also claims the title of "dick" (out of your mouth comes nothing but deceit, I want only to see it shut.) "Living in a Whirlwind" is obviously about addiction, probably something like alcohol or drugs (Cheating death, just to get your fix) & (Still you're sinking lower, each day more desperate.) "Severed Reality" is about all the really screwed up things you see while on LSD (Twisting masses taking form beyond the murky black, A scream breaks the silence and the skies begin to crack.) "Prey for Death" is about a post apocalyptic world where people still live (Heat beats down over barren wastes, Desolate realms of ash, Vultures circling overhead, They feed on your dying past....Parched with thirst but you cannot drink, The oceans melt away)and soon revert to cannibalism (Breed so you can eat the young, Keeps hunger at bay) These are some pretty nice thrash tracks, and the lyrics definitely suit the music. // 94
Impression: Overall this album gets a 98 because is is that f--king good of an album. This album actually gave me hope that someday Metal would not be about breakdowns and how "Hardc0r3" the music was. This is a total Thrash out, balls out album. It reminds me of the days of early Slayer, Demolition Hammer, "Cavelera" era Sepultura, and Sacrifice. If you want a new album that makes you think it's 1986 and Thrash is at it's peak, go buy this, NOW. And actually buy it, don't download it, the band needs the money because Hardc0r3 kids won't listen to their music because it's not br00tal enough or some stupid shit. Anyway a 98/100 for the best Thrash band since 1991 it is. // 98/100
originally posted @
[ http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/compact_discs/warbringer/waking_into_nightmares/index.html ]
In the dark wasteland of the American metal scene there are few bands who hold the intensity and aggressiveness to stand up and destroy everything the mainstream has managed to destroy. Warbringer is one of those bands. Warbringer's debut, War Without End, is a well known release in the metal community but left a bad taste in most metalheads mouth's. It's main issues were the genericness of the album, the drumming on War Without End sounded delayed, and the music was just generally uninspired. Their second release is FAR better.
For one they have a new drummer who is much more competent and is actually a productive member. Their two guitarists have also learned a great deal more and the riffs on this album are actually memorable and are pretty varied for a thrash album. The bassist has changed since the last (and has changed back since the album was released) but I'd say that both Andy and Ben were on about equal footing... or at least as far as the bass in both albums. Finally the best thing this band has done is that they've moved from the Exodus and Slayer worship of their first album to a sound much more reminiscent of early death/thrash bands like Destruction, Morbid Saint, and Magnus.
This album slaughters from the start to the end with really only one break from the relentless onslaught which is Nightmare Anatomy (which is a great song anyways in the vein Call of Cthulu.... Not that this band sounds ANYTHING like that band anyways). This album even has a song with death growls on Shadow from the Tomb which is definitely a step in the right direction. The album itself is riff aplenty all of which are memorable and thrash-able. The solos for the most part aren't anything special except for the solo for Abandoned by Time which caused me to lose my virginity twice over and left my ass quite sore.
I'd say the only real problem with this album is that Nightmare Anatomy comes at a really bad time. I think it would have been better at the beginning or end of the record because it comes in right in the middle of two of the thrashiest songs on the album, Prey for Death and Shadow from the Tomb, which makes it somewhat more drawn out.
Ultimately this release is what Warbringer should have been releasing instead of War Without End. It is thrashier, more varied, better composed, blacker, more extreme, and much heavier and is in every way better than War Without End. The direction the band has taken is a direction I'd like them to continue down the road on with their next album. This is retro-thrash done RIGHT (unlike Evile, Fueled by Fire, Mantic Ritual and others). Every metalhead who respects the giants of old will enjoy this album.
To be fair, I'm all for this resurgence of old-school-ish thrash metal as much as the next guy. Definitely a vast improvement over the wasteland of -core bands that have populated the tours and airwaves lo these past several years. Plus, giving some of the more deserving second and third tier acts a career revival warrants a thumbs up in my book. However, in the case of the young and fresh new bands, you need to know your craft and do it well. That involves either pumping in fresh blood or writing songs that are good enough to overlook their lack of originality.
So for all you new thrash bands looking for attention, do NOT follow these guys' path.
Back when WARBRINGER first burst into the scene I tried to get into them as they were to be part of a number of shows I was up for seeing. Upon first glance they seemed like a genuinely routine metal act. And then the music started...I sampled some tracks off their first album, "War Without End", and each one was so unoriginal and hackneyed that they were all virtually unenjoyable. A conglomerate of ripped-off old SLAYER and MEGADETH riffs mixed into a somewhat modern approach from a glorified cover band that was hyped so much as the next best metal act so loudly I was almost deafened. I'd hoped that, as time would progress, these guys would mature enough to be able to write and record their own, original work. I was proven wholly wrong once I listened to "Waking Into Nightmares". Everything that made these goons so horrid and bothersome is back, if not worse in some places. Sure, the performance is energetic and spirited, the guitars rip-roarin', the acidic snarls wicked and impure, and the drumwork like bombastic machine-gun pops all combined with the violence that made thrash so frightening back in the 80s seems to be in full swing, but that really shouldn't amount to a hill of beans if you wear your influences so brightly on your sleeves. You could package this with a SLAYER or EXODUS logo and for my money I doubt anyone would really tell the difference. I didn't find anything on this exercise of monotony worth its purchase, where the inundation of half-baked riffs and ideas from the likes of "Living In a Whirlwind", "Prey for Death" and "Shadow From the Tomb" bothered the hell out of me. Oh well.
In the end this doesn't at all live up to all the hype the WARBRINGERs have gotten over the years. If this is the direction they wish to take from here on out then I'll tip my hat and bid them good day. I've got better bands to listen to.
So Warbringer got quite a lot of attention with their last album, and also a lot of complaints. Many mentioned that it was generic, and that the production sucked. While that album was fun, those flaws were there, and they brought it down a lot.
Now then, this album took those flaws, and promptly shot them in the head with a shotgun that shoots pure thrash metal. The production is now excellent. All the parts (vocals, guitars, bass, drums) are nicely balanced out so that no one is drowning out anyone else. And while Warbringer certainly isn't a band that creates brilliantly new and imaginative thrash metal, they are no longer generic. They've found their niche, and they've thrashed hard where they are.
The drumming has especially improved. The last drummer had trouble keeping a steady tempo, and could barely keep up with the band. Now the newer drummer Nic Ritter has fixed this. He keeps it consistent through the whole album, providing good drumming that drives the music forward.
John Kevil's vocals are excellent on this album. His voice simply rips through your ears as he screams and belts out lyrics. One the song Shadows of the Tomb he even tries a growl, although I think this was a failed idea. His growl might become good with practice. It's very old school, making me think of Death's first two albums, Possessed, and Morbid Angel. However, it isn't good yet, so it's a weakness on the album. Still, it only shows up as the chorus on one song, and on the rest of the album he screams, roars, and shouts the whole way through providing a good thrashy performance.
The guitarists are quite good. Their solos still need work, as they still sound too similar to Metallica and Testament solos, but they've gotten better since the last album. The riffs on this album are where the guitarists really shine. They're fast and intense, as all thrash riffs are. They don't ever rely on speed to cover up for a lack of quality, which is nice since some thrash bands (Kreator and Sodom come to mind) have done that in the past, but Warbringer manages to avoid that trap.
The bass is audible on this album, which is a plus since the bassist is fairly good. Sometimes he he just follows the guitars, and sometimes he does his own unique thing to drive the song forward. The bassist seems to have a good idea of when he should do which thing, which is a quality that many good bassists have.
Gary Holt produced this album, and with a thrash legend like that behind this, it's no wonder that it sounds much better than the last one. As I said before, no one drowns out anyone else excessively. The guitar tone has also improved since the last album, where it was muddy, but now it's crisp and perfectly suited for Warbringer's music. Gary Holt really did well here.
I wanna bring up one song, which is Nightmare Anatomy. It's an instrumental, and it's more progressive and gentle than the rest of the songs on Waking Into Nightmares. After the first 6 thrashing songs, this feels a bit out of place. I feel it would have been much better if this had been placed closer to the end, instead of being near the middle. Still, despite how out of place it is, it's a good instrumental. It shows Warbringer maturing musically, and experimenting it a bit.
This album is one of the few good modern thrash albums comign out in a flood of bands that simply rip off the old thrash songs (I'm looking at YOU Evile!), and shows how to do retro-thrash correctly. It should be fun and enjoyable for almost all fans of thrash.
When I first heard Warbringer's debut "War Without End" I was left with mixed feelings. The album had a lot of things going for it, but it also left a lot to be desired. The riffs were a little generic, the production was REALLY generic(seriously, awful even by thrash standards,) the vocals were monotonous, etc. I mean it wasn't a terrible album, but it was boring and just a rehash of Vio-lence and Exodus riffs. But with this album, these guys have came into a sound more of their own. I mean it's not a drastic change by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it's quite subtle, but it's there. The riffs are catchier and sound like they have reason, the production is thicker and way better than the crappy mix their debut had. The drums are much more precise. The band also slows down more, but in slowing down they seem to have become heavier. This album sounds less like Vio-lence, and more like Demolition Hammer....Really, it sounds a hell of a lot like Demolition Hammer at times.
This time around the songs are a little more varied, and much catchier. The second track, "Living In a Whirlwind" shows just how catchy they can be. At exactly 30 seconds into the song, the music stops and John screams "Living in a whirlwind!!" and it explodes back into the verse riff. It's just one of those moments, simple but very effective. "Abandoned By Time" is one of the heavier songs on the album, good chugging riff and ultra fast double bass. "Prey For Death" is total Demolition Hammer worship, even the vocal pattern sounds eerily similar to a DH song that I can't quite place at the moment. But it's probably the best song on the album. "Shadow From the Tomb" changes things up quite a bit, the verses have some weird riffing and vocal effects. I believe their bass player sings quite a bit on this song(don't quote me on that,) he has a sort of John Tardy growl, it actually works quite well. "Forgotten Dead" closes the album off in spectacular fashion, it's a song with varied tempos and changes. I love the ending and the way the song abruptly stops.
There are a few flaws though. For one, the guitar solos often sound out of place, and almost always sound too light and happy and simply don't fit well with the really heavy music. Also, the vocals are slightly too loud in the mix, and there's a little too much mid. Both of these problems can be remedied a bit by using any decent audio editing program and cutting some of the mids out with a graphic EQ or whatever(or just fucking with your stereos EQ.) The songs are a bit repetitive but this is thrash after all, they actually did a good job of keeping things varied. All in all, this is a really solid release from these guys, I expect to see more good things from them and hopefully they keep kicking ass.
Warbringer are fucking back with a vengeance, holy shit! And what a fucking mighty follow up this is to last years War Without End, when they landed onto the thrash metal scene with a gigantic fist in the face. War Without End gained much acclaim, garnering many fans as well as plenty of mindless haters. 2009 brings Waking Into Nightmares, the sophomore effort and an overall better performance. I will have a very hard time believing that there are many thrash fans out there that can't find something enjoyable from this release, it's an overall better output and solid thrash album for all sorts of fans.
War Without End was a solid and short thrash album with loads of ridiculous solos, cool riffs and fun choruses; so what's the difference here. Well, Waking Into Nightmares is essentially War Without End, taken to a more extreme, with a much more polished sound and an even greater overall performance in essentially ever aspect. I will always love the debut, there are loads of classic songs here, but it's fairly safe to say that on Waking Into Nightmares, all the major factors are taken here into a better light and improved a lot. Starting off with the vocals and guitars, everything here packs much more of a punch and is stepped up in every direction. John Kevill takes vocal duties seriously, giving 110% performance in every situation possible. One thing you will notice on this new album, is the prominent death/thrash feel, now it's not as heavily introduced as a Demolition Hammer song, or Morbid Saint or even someone like the harsher or rawer Teutonic bands; but it's definitely there and is noticed throughout. Kevill adapts to each situation easily, whether it's an insanely cool opening yell or a lower growl or the his more standard delivery that packs a more punch.
The production here is also to be noticed, more polished and probably better for this style, is easily a good factor for Warbringer. Everything from the vocals to the guitars and the drums is more noticeable and powerful; with new drummer Nic Ritter taking the harness with much ease and exercising his insane talent behind the kit. On War Without End, the drums weren't doing much other than just being the standard affair and keeping the rhythm, but here Ritter introduces something that is always better in thrash metal, producing a better vibe that ups the heavy factor and incorporates more than just the standard beat. Definitely a plus here. Guitar duties still done by John Laux and Adam Carroll are still top notch, there wasn't a thing I could complain about guitar-wise on War Without End, and if it's possible on this follow up, the riffs are even better and the lead work is even better! Lead work is more structured and taken more into consideration than just wild and frantic solos, although the feel is still here it's much more insanely fantastic. Every guitar solo here is memorable, especially taking into account the ridiculous shredding on Abandoned by Time. The riffs, if you can imagine, are much heavier and more thrashier with a more distinct headbanging feel; perfect!
War Without End featured plenty of chanted and sing along choruses that fit the style perfectly, which is something in thrash I absolutely love; a band that can write really catchy choruses and just awesome songs that stick out. Waking Into Nightmares features this style again, with Prey for Death and Senseless Life following the tradition, catchy singing along with some fun riffing. Waking Into Nightmares features my favorite thing on albums, the killer 1-2-3 combo of opening songs; Jackal, Living in a Whirlwind and Severed Reality. These are easily my favorite types of songs, with Jackal opening up the album with probably the best song, some killer vocal lines that lead up to Kevill yelling "....JACKAL!" at about 1 minute in and a ridiculously awesome main riff enters like Gorro from Mortal Kombat and takes your body and just snaps it in half with it's 4 arms. Fuck yeah. Living in a Whirlwind has to be one of the coolest tracks they've ever written, with a sweet opening riff that leads into.... "LIVING IN A WHIRLWIND!" with even more insane riffing. Gang shouted back up vocals are spotted throughout the album, highly prominent and a definite plus. Kevill manages to make "whirlwind" have 3 syllables now and for that, I fucking salute him!
Throughout the album you will notice the small improvements that proves this is an overall better release than War Without End. May it be the more incorporated death/thrash influences, the improved drumming, the more structured riffing and lead guitar work or even the production and powerful vocal delivery; it's all here found throughout the entire album that absolutely decimates the fucking competition. As noted before, the death/thrash style starts to rise up into Warbringer's style, although definitely more thrash than "death/thrash", you can find the heavy Demolition Hammer influence on Abandoned by Time where the listener is absolutely maimed by the insanely cool "breakdown" where Ritter starts blast beating and over top is one of the coolest fucking solos, reminds me of something Dark Angel would do.
Two things manage to stick out above all else on this album, firstly the third to last song Nightmare Anatomy. It's a four minute instrumental, that starts off slow and ominous with clean guitars and a nice display of drumming. At the two minute mark is climaxes and leads into a nice almost 'moving' thrash instrumental, that creates a nice ominous and cool atmosphere. It's not bad in any way, just a strange inclusion onto the album that I was not expecting. The other thing that sticks out probably the most, was featured on Shadow From the Tomb (only song with lyrics not written by John Kevill, instead by bassist Ben Bennett), where about halfway through we hear... death metal vocals? That's right folks, straight up death metal growling, instead of Kevill's usual semi yelled growl and delivery, we get a full on death metal chorus, that sounds a lot like Martin Van Drunen actually, which is definitely something I look forward to hearing live.
So, with this excellent sophomore outing, Warbringer have totally kicked my ass once again. This is easily one of the better retro-thrash albums to be released period, and fuck this is a definite overall killer thrash album in general. Warbringer have established themselves as one of the best thrash bands to grace the scene within the few years with now two killer albums. This has it all, really cool and catchy chorus, powerful riffs and solos that pack a punch and some of the best thrash vocals around at this time. Even if you didn't like War Without End, I can't imagine you disliking Waking Into Nightmares, there is so much more new to be found as well as plenty of the refined elements they employed earlier, this is an album you shouldn't miss on, I'm having a hard time finding anything wrong with it actually. So pick this up if you are a fan of thrash or death/thrash and definitely if you loved the debut, if you don't well... you're a pussy. WHIR-IL-WIND!
As much as I was bored to death by Warbringer's previous release, War Without End, I was much more entertained by Waking Into Nightmares. I preordered the album and got a bonus disc, the rough mix tracks to two of the songs, which was a nice touch, but unnecessary. It seems like they could've saved a lot of money and made the rough mix tracks just bonus tracks on the album.
The major thing that keeps me listening to this album is the riffs. They're not as bland and mediocre as in the previous release. Maybe its just the production, maybe I've acquired more of a fondness of thrash recently, but the riffs keep me pretty entertained. Having seen some of the newer trash bands live like Warbringer, Municipal Waste, and Lazarus A.D. helps my thrash appetite.
Aside from the riffs, the lead work is pretty standard. Nothing really mindblowing or groundbreaking, but its not really supposed to be. Its trash. As long as it sounds cool (and it does), that's all that matters.
Next is the drums. There's much more double bass (which I'm a fan of), and the drummer didn't consistently sound like he was trying to keep up with the rest of the band as on the previous album. Getting a new drummer was a step in the right direction for Warbringer.
I can't even hear the bass. Maybe its just me, but I usually can't hear the bass in anything anyway.
The vocals are pretty much the same as the previous album, maybe turned up a little bit, if not a little better. It seems John has improved a little bit, which makes the album that much more enjoyable. But again, maybe its just the production. The only complaint I have is that the lyrics could be a little more evil, but I guess Warbringer isn't really that evil of a band.
All in all, I am very satisfied with this album. I really, really wanted to like Warbringer, but War Without End just bored me to tears. This release is much better and is a giant step in the right direction. I will be definiitely be at the next show when I get an opportunity.