Over the past half a decade, Los Angeles’ Warbringer have produced three of the best new age thrash albums of recent years – a triptych of work which has taken its inspiration from the sound of genre pioneers such as Exodus, Exciter and Testament and brought it up to date with a not insubstantial amount of flair.
This suitably programmatically entitled fourth album is, at its heart, more of the same – solid, sturdy riffs combined with just the right combination of aggression and melody, light and shade: this is all summed up in the opening track, ‘Horizon’, with it’s stabbing main riff, interweaving twin guitar melodies, gruff vocal and lilting intrumental playout.
‘The Turning Of The Gears’ is another classically-framed slice of old school thrash, with a neat DM edge to it, especially in John Kevill’s almost shouted vocal, delivered over the top of a suitably grinding main guitar line: across all of the 11 tracks, John Laux and Jeff Potts play superbly together, their guitars both intertwining and cutting across each other to great effect, all the while underpinned by the supremely solid foundations of drummer Carlos Cruz and Ben Mottsman. ‘One Dimension’ most definitely could not be described as such, with its complex layering and well-worked changes in both direction (there are elements of nu-metal and punk, the latter via the gang vocal chorus) and tempo.
‘Hunter-Seeker’ and ‘Black Sun, Black Moon’ are traditional thrash workouts, very much in the mould of Testament and Overkill, with the latter producing the first piercing scream from Kevill, while ‘Scars Remain’ introduces a very modern, tech-metal feel to its construction, and ‘Dying Light’, the longest track on the album is a soaring, majestic which echoes the feel and scope of ‘Horizon’ with its combination of bruising beats and melodic harmonies.
‘Iron City’ successfully manages to reference classic metal, especially in its rollicking Maiden-esque bass line, while ‘Leviathan’ is a suitably monstrous beatdown with a solid groove edge; at just under two minutes, ‘Off With Their Heads!’ has just the sort of sharp, punky kick and punch that Nuclear Assault specialized in, while closer ‘Tower Of The Serpent’ is another solid, twisting old school ‘banger, with a suitably epic feel.
Like many of the acts from which they clearly take their influence, and to whom they pay suitably reverential (but not overly so) respect, Warbringer may never climb to the upper echelons of the thrash metal hierarchy: but they are among the battalions of extremely talented standard bearers who are keeping the genre alive and bringing it to new audiences and marching onward, with supreme confidence, into the future.
‘IV: Empires Collapse’ is released via Century Media on October 28th in the EU and the following day in the USA.
Horizon / The Turning Of The Gears / One Dimension / Hunter-Seeker / Black Sun, Black Moon / Scars Remain / Dying Light / Iron City / Leviathan / Off With Their Heads! / Tower Of The Serpent
Check out our interview with vocalist John Kevill: https://planetmosh.com/warbringer-interview-with-john-kevill/