By Ryan Falla
Take a look to the blue skies above you. Now imagine a sudden flash of light, it gets hot and your skin starts to burn. The soundwaves from the blast that just ruptured the sky is so powerful it blows away the remnants of your melting skin and leaves you as a living, perpetually decomposing husk. The skies are covered with a blanket of ash from the nuclear winter as all life is blotted out of existence. Imagine the playground scene from Terminator 2 played on frame-by-frame mode, each frame of the nuclear destruction extended into a lifetime.
This is Warbringer.
Releasing their fifth album to a hungry horde of fans, Warbringer looks not only to continue their success, but dominate the modern thrash market. The record ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ isn’t just another top tier album in the Warbringer catalog, it’s a statement that they are the future. If you haven’t gotten that message yet you will definitely pick it up after giving the new Warbringer record a spin.
Warbringer does a fantastic job of putting together a record with a strong footing in extreme thrash metal without watering it down with modern metal elements. ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ rings with tones reminiscent of ‘South of Heaven’ era Slayer; in fact you could say that if modern Slayer never attempted to modernize their thrash with nu-metal elements they could fall in the same ballpark as Warbringer. That’s a moot point though, because no one can do it like Warbringer does it with ‘Woe to the Vanquished’.
One of my favorite things about this record is a pretty minor element to this band but I love it to death nonetheless. John Kevill is a wildly talented vocalist and his ability to pull off the classic “Tom Araya banshee wails” fills me with more excitement than it probably should. The track ‘Shellfire’ opens up in this exact fashion and I couldn’t love it more even if Kevill spent the entire track exercising his bunker-busting wails.
There are a lot of records where you can deconstruct track by track to explain why each song builds up to a successful body of work. ‘Woe to The Vanquished’, again, reminds me of extreme old-school speed thrash because nearly every track rings with similar tones that do more to stamp each song with the Warbringer brand than many modern metal records do.
Instead of each song being so similar it muddies out the entire record, Warbringer keeps their music within successful variables of thrash metal instead of flinging shit at the wall to see what sticks with the fans. Warbringer doesn’t need to waste time playing around to add depth to their “musical identity”, they know exactly what they need to bring for success and they bring it in spades.
There is one instance of “experimentation” within this record; the track ‘When the Guns Fell Silent” being the longest song they’ve recorded in their career at 11 minutes in length. This track breaks away from the well-established formula of extreme thrash to fall into an epic that gently floats your soul across a burning lake of damned souls dragging you down into the fiery waters. Warbringer finds massive success with this track as it provides the same foreboding brutality present in the rest of the record, except this time it’s done on a much slower and more drawn out pace. That’s not to say that this is a “slow” song by any means necessary, it just takes their brand of metal and instead of putting it through the blazing inferno, it puts it in a slow burn. Like a living creature skewered through a spit roast as the heat from the fire cooks the skin with steam and smoke.
‘Woe to The Vanquished’ is an unbelievable album by Warbringer; and as it stands with my musical philosophy, good albums can be dissected for analysis but great music can only be listened to, and your soul will ring with passion if the quality is present.
You can logically analyze a good record, but an album like ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ can only be judged by how it moves your soul. Warbringer will take your soul and blast it into the fifth dimension of living music; like a near death experience you are only allowed back into your body once they decide your journey is over and it’s time to return home.
And as any good near death experience is, you are not going to want to come back from ‘Woe to the Vanquished’.
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Record Label: Napalm
Release Date: March 31st 2017
1. Silhouettes (4:45)
2. Woe to the Vanquished (4:01)
3. Remain Violent (3:24)
4. Shellfire (3:59)
5. Descending Blade (4:15)
6. Spectral Asylum (5:34)
7. Divinity of Flesh (3:50)
8. When the Guns Fell Silent (11:12)
Total Duration: 41:00