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In a way that seems to parallel the fates of the original guard, the newest wave of thrash metal appears to be at a slight decline. Already in an awkward spot due to the movement’s derivative attitude, the top bands such as Evile have had to put an extra amount of effort into sounding distinct to avoid facing the fate of being a single drop in an ocean of overexposure. Fortunately, Warbringer has done their share of sound changes while still proving themselves as one of the movement’s most consistent groups. While the band’s third studio album firmly secure their style as well as their fetish for titles that start with the letter “w,” this album does offer one change in the form of its rhythm section. Bassist Andy Laux has returned to the fold after missing the sessions for 2009’s Waking Into Nightmares and Hexen drummer Carlos Cruz appears to be an entirely new recruit.
At this point in the band’s career, it could be argued that Waking Into Nightmares is the most significant album they’ve put out so far. While their debut War Without End was a largely direct release with few deviations from a violent formula, their second release brought several forays into different tempos and more experimental sounds. With this release, the band hasn’t moved too far from the changes that came about with Waking and may have settled on their own unique sound. The guitars retain the muddy tone that likely came about through the influence of Gary Holt, the drums are constantly intense, and the songwriting uses atypical structures while allowing for memorable moments.
The bass playing is also worth noting for it is delightfully prominent in several spots. The departure of Ben Bennett may mean that we’ll never see another oddity like “Shadow From The Tomb” in the near future, but hearing the lower end on tracks like “Wake Up . . . Destroy” and “Shattered Like Glass” may be worth it. With everything else to consider, the vocals of John Kevill manage to be the band’s one constant for he never seems to deviate from his Paul Baloff meets Schmier yell. While his voice is still guaranteed to divide listeners, he does help give the band a unique edge. Hopefully, he isn’t still being compared to metalcore screamers as he has next to nothing to do with them…
While Waking seemed to have a structure that showed off a brutally straightforward first half and a more experimental second half with some speed retained, this effort seems to spread things around by having a grand slew of thrashers with various tweaks implemented to keep them from sounding too repetitive. While it may bring down the variety level to some extent, it does help everything sound more consistent. For starters, many songs on here feature slow or more melodic segments to complement or counteract the intensity. “Wake Up . . . Destroy” is noteworthy for having a particularly groovy introduction while “Savagery” opens with a darker sound that hints at Seasons In The Abyss-era Slayer. In addition, “Treacherous Tongue” makes up for its short two minute running time with some shredding twin guitar harmonies and “Echoes From The Void” is made memorable by its acoustic introduction and more melodic solo section.
But all of the tracks on here, “Future Ages Gone” is probably the strongest. Along with its smooth transitions, it is made memorable by a tense guitar lead during the verses that brings to mind early Testament and wickedly distorted vocals towards the end. “Living Weapon” also makes for a great opener thanks to a great building introduction and strong closing chorus.
The album may mostly consist of thrash tunes, but the last two tracks do provide for some interesting curveballs. Like “Nightmare Anatomy” before it, “Beyond the Veils of Night” seems to serve as a break of sorts with its melodic flourishes. But rather than using the instrumental as a source of atmospheric filler, Wabringer keeps things creative and ends up crafting something that wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on the latest Opeth album thanks to its sweet piano and soft melancholic guitar. Coming off of the instrumental is the album’s closer, “Demonic Ecstasy.” As expected with that kind of title, it is easily the darkest and most dramatic song on the album. In a way similar to Exodus’ “No Love,” it starts off with a strong mid-tempo segment before suddenly mutating into the familiar beatings and finally ending on another slower riff set. Hopefully the band will find some more time to play with slower tempos in the future, but this is a pretty good touch for now.
Overall, your feelings towards this release will probably be shaped by your feelings towards Waking Into Nightmares. If you wanted nothing to do with that release or anything else from the movement, then this is probably not something that you’ll want to mess with. But if you did enjoy that album, there’s a good chance that this’ll be right up your alley. At this point in the band’s career, it probably wouldn’t be unfair to describe Worlds Torn Asunder as the “typical” Warbringer album. It is more or less as good as previous releases and would probably be the one that I would recommend to anyone interested in the band. It may not have a “Shoot To Kill” moment on here but it does offer another good slice of thrash metal comfort.
“Wake Up . . . Destroy”
“Future Ages Gone”
“Beyond the Veils of Night”
Warbringer is one of those bands that a lot of people love to hate, along with some of the other bands in the current thrash revival. The reasoning for this? They are being compared to against the giants of the original 80's thrash scene. However, it we look at what Worlds Torn Asunder is, as just a record, we see that Warbringer is still expanding, growing, and improving. With "World's Torn Asunder", Warbringer proves once again that they are to be at the forefront of this revival movement.
Worlds Torn Asunder stats off with an extremely strong track in "Living Weapon". The chugging triplets set the mood and give you something that's fun as fuck to bang your head to, and vocalist John Kevill's scream of "Open fire!" is a fantastic way to pump up the listener right away. The chugging triplets in the intro also set the pace and the groove for the entire song. The first thing that I noticed about this album is that the fantastic production quality that we heard on "Waking Into Nightmares" returns once again. It's obvious that even though this album isn't produced by Gary Holt, as "Waking Into Nightmares" was, he has definitely left his mark on the band.
Following "Living Weapon" are two pretty strong tracks in "Shattered Like Glass" and "Wake Up...Destroy", but the next track that really caught my interest was "Future Ages Gone". This track is, at parts, a return to the Warbringer album "War Without End" in it's ferocity and aggression. It's definitely one of the highlights of the album and is a welcomed return. This ferocity is also noted even moreso on "Treacherous Tongue", a two minute pure thrasher track. Directly following "Treacherous Tongue" is "Echoes from the Void", which I think is the strongest track on the album. It combines the aggression that we heard in the "War Without End", with the complexity and musicality that the band added with "Waking into Nightmares". There are very few filler tracks on "Worlds Torn Asunder", each track definitely has it's memorable bits and they're all extremely thrashy except for "Behind the Veils of Night" which is an instrumental piece, however it leads into "Demonic Ecstasy", the last track of the album which is a fantastic closer.
Another aspect of "Worlds Torn Asunder" which needs to be noted is the departure of "Waking Into Nightmares" drummer Nic Ritter, and the addition of Carlos Cruz (formerly of Hexen.) With Cruz replacing Ritter, we lose some of the complexity in the drums that was praised on "Waking Into Nightmares", but we gain a ton of speed and aggression. Carlos' drumming is very powerful and definitely a good addition to the mix of John Laux's guitars and John Kevill's vocals. It should also be noted that while the debut "War Without End" and "Waking Into Nightmares" had roots in the Bay-Area sound of thrash, "Worlds Torn Asunder" has much more of Teutonic thrash sound to it, like Kreator.
If I had to name a complaint about "Worlds Torn Asunder", it'd have to be that upon multiple listens some of the weaker tracks blend into eachother and become forgettable. However, the good tracks on the album more than make up for it. Overall, "Worlds Torn Asunder" is a strong record for Warbringer, and it's bound to get them some more fans in the metal community. After touring non-stop for almost two years, they definitely deserve the recognition.
-Future Ages Gone
-Echoes from the Void
A band that's trying to establish itself in the thrash metal genre, Warbringer brings out their new 2011 release entitled "Worlds Torn Asunder". Of course there's a heavy Metallica/Exodus/Testament influence to their music. As a 5-piece, these guys put together a less than innovative release. "War Without End", their debut, was probably their most notable attack on the thrash metal scene. I have yet to hear that follow up "Waking Into Nightmares".
About the music, a lot of it is heavy crunch tone distorted riffs mixed with a little clean tone and an instrumental. The leads could've been more creative by both guitarists, John Laux and Adam Carroll. Both of them need to brush up on their skills. But the riff-writing was sub-par. They could've done without an instrumental in the mix. It seemed to damper the intensity of the album.
There is a lack of innovation in the riffs. Best to stick with the 80's CA based thrash metal. Warbringer doesn't offer a good amount of creativity or energy that's worth listening to. There's a lot of people that share the same view. They really need to take out the leads and concentrate on more solid rhythm guitar. That would be the best move for this band. They really don't seem to cut it with these rhythms/leads.
John Kevill, their vocalist, takes a while to take a liking to. He contributes with all the lyrics about war, violence, and death, but doesn't offer a great deal of added screams to back up the music. He really doesn't offer much in this department. Not enough intensity and variety to his voice. That is another thing that's lacking from this band.
The mixing/production was decent, but the bass could've been a little bit louder. They could've also done without the clean tone guitars. I think that the vocals could've been a bit louder. The leads were decently mixed in with the rest of the music. The drums were a little bit flat sounding. Maybe with more releases the band can establish themselves as a more creative act.
This album was pretty generic and not at all very memorable. In fact, this band needs to focus on originality and better rhythm/lead guitar sections as I previously mentioned. Their vocalist has to have more intensity and variety to his throat. Good that their still young in age, so they have a chance to mature more with their music. Best to stick without picking up this album. It's a real disappointment.
Warbringer have been trying to set themselves up as one of the frontrunners in the thrash metal revival movement and they certainly have the chops and experience under their belt to try and carry the flag across the battlefield, though I will admit at first I certainly wasn’t buying all the hype they were getting, especially when there’s such a huge influx of new school/revival thrash metal in the state of California alone such as Fueled by Fire, Hexen, Bonded by Blood, Exmortus, and of course the usual superstars of thrash metal that we are all acquainted with. Now that Warbringer have been tested through multiple demos, singles, full-lengths, and nationwide tours trying to demonstrate how to thrash correctly, they now set a new path with their latest album, “Worlds Torn Asunder”.
Right out of the gate we are greeted with the modern straight-ahead and no-holds-barred thrash approach that California (specifically the Bay Area) has made entirely its own. The best way that I can describe this meat locker of melodic hooks is if you merged both modern versions of Testament and Exodus together, and threw Mille Petrozza of Kreator on vocals. The riffs feel as if they were crafted by Alex Skolnick and Gary Holt, while the song structures definitely rely on catchy hooks and a driving bass rhythm. Everything is pretty by-the-books Bay Area thrash. While they are incredibly consistent and musically competent, this stagnation also hurt my ability to keep constant attention on the album.
While I am a man who loves his thrash metal to be, well, thrash, there is a bit more variation the band could have done with “Worlds Torn Asunder” to keep the listener engaged longer. There were far too many tracks where it felt like the first couple minutes were nothing but precursors to the real build-up where the second portions of the songs would really kick into high gear (i.e. “Living Weapon”, “Enemies of the State”, “Savagery”, and “Echoes of the Void”), and you didn’t have to think you were listening to a thrash metal album. No, no...you were bombarded with a thrash metal album. Sadly, those moments of clarity come too late at times and I found myself just wanting to hit the next track.
There are also some pieces of songs that just really take me out of the listening experience as they make the music feel disjointed and, at times, random. These occurrences are rare, but when they happen, it is glaringly obvious, especially in “Shattered Like Glass”. The only song that I feel I didn’t have any real issues with was “Treacherous Tongue”. It has a very energetic and dominating tone, making you bang your head like you’re supposed to. The riffs feel very connected and well thought out, and the solos remind me a bit of “Black Magic” by Slayer. Most important of all, it doesn’t wear out its own welcome by being longer than it has to be. That is the kind of thrash metal I was hoping for throughout the album.
While the meat of this album isn’t what I had hoped for, the production values are pretty good. I know sometimes I really want that old-school aesthetic of an album being recorded on a two-deck stereo system with that raw emotional feeling put behind it as the music blasts onward. But, every once in a while I’ll find myself wishing for something a bit more polished and audible, and there is no shortage of that on “Worlds Torn Asunder”. You can hear every strike of the drums, every pick of the guitar strings, every groove of the bass, and the harshness in the vocals as they go for that deep faux-falsetto.
All in all, I was really hoping that by now I would be a Warbringer fan. They sure do put on a hell of a live show, but when it comes to their studio material I just cannot get on board. There are lots of elements I like, but they are quickly cancelled out by the band playing it safe. I’m not sure if they wanted to try and go with a more easily accessible material in “Worlds Torn Asunder”, but whatever the case may be, my thirst for blistering thrash metal was not met. There are a couple songs that I will definitely listen to again, but am I willing to go through the entire album again anytime soon? Not likely.
Originally written for Metal Blast: http://www.metalblast.net/2011/10/warbringer-worlds-torn-asunder-510/#more
California's Warbringer are another of the undisputed forerunners of the present thrash metal retrospective, riding its wave to greater success than many of their peers. Like Evile from across the pond, they've worked pretty damn hard in touring and promoting themselves, achieved a good level of visibility through Century Media records, and in truth they perform competent throwback to the Bay Area aesthetics of bands like Exodus, Slayer and Vio-Lence. I can't say that I've enjoyed either of their priors (War Without End or Waking Into Nightmares), but they don't fuck off, they're not flamboyantly 'retro', and if that late 80s cluster of acts had been presented with modern gear and production values, you can be sure as shit it would sound like this.
That said, Worlds Torn Asunder seems a step forward as far as memorable writing. The leads here are brilliant and entertaining, hands down my favorite individual element of the album. They not only flex the guitarists' muscles, but they actually serve to tighten and element the thrashing momentum about them. "Shattered Like Glass" is one of the better examples of this transcendent excitement, but "Future Ages Gone" (with its Skolnik-inspired licks), "Enemies of the State" and "Savagery" are all penetrating. I've also got no qualms with John Kevill's vocal delivery, a weighted and bitter rasp which is clearly trying to reflect the Baloff/Souza school without blatantly robbing its cradle of creativity. The rhythm section is tight, and they offer a good variety of tempos, from the straight Exodus charging of "Living Weapon" to the more spacious and broad appeal of "Future Ages Gone" or the more clinical, mid-paced "Treacherous Tongue".
Where I didn't quite find myself in lockstep here was in the actual rhythm guitar chugging. The majority of the riffs feel very average and lackluster, not unlike the latest Onslaught album or most of the Rob Dukes-fronted Exodus releases. They sound great in production, but the actual structure of the notes just doesn't do much for me; it's walking on pretty well established ground and it seemed that, more often than not, I felt myself waiting in eager anticipation for the lead sequence since I knew it would stand out pretty far from everything else. Quite a few predictable chug patterns are strewn about the more exciting sequences, and in general I felt like they were similar to, but less exciting than those of another Californian act (Bonded by Blood) who draw on the same direct influences. I snapped a few vertebrae to their Exiled to Earth album, whereas with this I couldn't summon up much recollection once the dust cleared, even after several spins.
In closing, I will say that this is the best of the Warbringer albums I've heard to date, and the first that I've enjoyed at all, even if that enjoyment was fleeting. The guys seem to take what they're doing seriously enough, and they're wise to offer a balanced, varied record which is unlikely to bore the modern thrash fan. I feel that with a bit more intricate melody in the rhythm riff structures, or less predictable headbanging pay-outs, they are fully capable of raising the stakes among the more prevalent, larger label bands in this scene. I don't know if Worlds Torn Asunder is the album to do that, but it's angry and practiced enough to hold peoples attention until such a time that they truly hit their stride, and offer up a worthier successor to the classics that inspired it.