Monday, April 17, 2017

Warbringer - Woe To The Vanquished (2017)

We are right now experiencing a new golden era of thrash metal, with seemingly every new thrash release being of high quality, and it is mostly thanks to the older bands. Veterans like Testament, Overkill, Megadeth, Anthrax, Flotsam & Jetsam, and Kreator are releasing some of their strongest albums now, but what about the newer bands? We do have some cool albums from the young guns, like Vektor's release last year, but I do feel like the genre has too few newer bands at the highest level, and all those bands that came out in the last decade during the new wave of American thrash either disappeared or split up. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but it is obvious that those bands did not break through like we all hoped they would.

One of these bands are Warbringer, a group I have had an eye on since their sophomore effort "Waking Into Nightmares". I really like their aggressive thrash style that blends both Slayer and German teutonic thrash pretty good, while still making it their own. It has been four years since they released the disappointing "IV: Empires Collapse", and a lot has changed since then. They changed line ups both once and twice, they have also changed record label, and also got banned from House of Blues in Anaheim (They are not the only metal band who have succeeded with that feat though).

With the history in the rear view mirror, I enter "Woe To The Vanquished" with lesser expectations, but with great hope. The cover shows a return to their classic logo and war imagery, giving the impression that the music will be more of what we wanna hear from the band. I am a little underwhelmed that the album only contains 8 new tracks, with one of them being 11 minutes in length, but it is obvious that Warbringer has tried to go with the fool proof strategy "all killer, no filler", maximizing all 40 minutes of your listening experience. I would not say that they fulfilled that plan 100%, but they were not too far off.

The opening one two punch of "Silhouettes" and "Woe To The Vanquished" is simply classic Warbringer stuff, fast thrash metal that pulverizes everything in its path. A clear statement that the band means business this time around, and while the following tune "Remain Violent" is a slower song, it keeps the aggressive tone that is necessary to this record. Next is "Shellfire", opening up with a hellish scream and keeps firing round after round until you have become a Swiss cheese. I feel like the band has found a spark again with this record, and it is quickly becoming a raging fire.

The second half of "Woe To The Vanquished" is not as furious, but it is still nice, with "Descending Blade", "Spectral Asylum", and "Divinity of Flesh" holding up the momentum that the first half had built up. This album is truly jam packed with intense thrash metal, from wall to wall, close to no real breaks. But then you reach the final track of the album, in which Warbringer does something a ton of bands have done lately, putting a massive song in the back of the album to give it an epic finish. It is a new and annoying habit that a lot of non progressive bands have started doing, and it rarely enhances the album, it is mostly just an annoyingly dragged out ending. "When The Guns Fell Silent" is no different. In a fast and exciting album as this one, this track is so extremely off putting, and does not utilize any of the band's strength. It is a big ugly mark in an otherwise fantastic album.

Even with the final song and its problems, I did really enjoy "Woe To The Vanquished", and it is a good step forward for the band, almost a fresh start even after all that have happened. It continues the trend of great thrash albums coming out lately, making sure that this golden age lasts a little bit longer. It is not the best album the band has done so far, but it promise us a bright future, and that the next one might be career defining. The battle is certainly won, but the war rages on.

Songs worthy of recognition: Woe To The Vanquished, Silhouettes, Shellfire, Descending Blade

Rating: 8/10 Spectral Asylums

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