REVIEW: WARBRINGER – “Woe To The Vanquished”
Thrash albums are plentiful these days and it seems that there isn’t much that hasn’t been covered by the genre. That’s what makes it all the more important when a band tries to do something differently and California thrashers Warbringer’s upcoming album ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ is one such album.
Beginning the album with a bang on “Silhouettes”, it only takes a moment to realize what the rest of the album is going to include. With breakneck speed riffage, galloping drums and an inclusive ambience, the changing nature of the song screams out for your investment.
While all of the songs weave an interesting piece of the albums tapestry, they are all unique in their own right and tell a stand alone story. While I have no doubt that this album was intended to be experienced from start to finish, I found that listening to songs piecemeal didn’t detract from the experience at all. This effect only heightened my appreciation for the album because although lyrically, all of these songs feel intertwined, yet the songs can be listened to on their own and still convey a story.
There is really only one ‘true to genre’ thrash anthem on this album and that is the title track itself, with every other song managing to have some form of intrinsic difference that sets itself apart from the rest. It’s small details like the missile drop in “Shellfire”, the quiet outro of the 11 minute long opus “When the Guns Fell Silent”, sweep solos in “Silhouette”, or the entirety of the song “Spectral Asylum” that offered unique experiences separate from each other, all the while forming an integral part of the album’s story. While on the topic of “Spectral Asylum”, this song is the pinnacle of thrash melody with a rousing instrumental piece forming the perfect prelude into the album’s best solo and it’s these intricacies that make ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ special.
Where ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ succeeds is not in its causal roots in thrash metal, but in the song structures themselves. This is a bread and butter thrash offering with enough heavy riffs to cause most thrash revellers to headbang until their necks snap off; but it’s the varied song structures that stop any of these songs from sounding similar to any in the current thrash landscape. You need look little further than “Descending Blade” or “Remain Violent” to feel these changes, but you could take a shot at almost any of the songs on the album and find that most don’t follow conventional structures.
I could talk for ages about how the different nuances in the instrumental parts of the album but it’s honestly better left to be experienced. The guitar duels between Adam Carroll and Chase Becker are awe-inspiringly beautiful and are thankfully littered all over the album; and Carlos Cruz on drums is probably praying that the album never gets played from start to finish in one go because I could only count the amount of times he would stop on the album on one one hand. John Kevill does an amazing job at capturing the grit and raw energy of the lyrics through his vocal delivery, and nails the more traditional metal screams that are scattered around the album.
‘Woe to the Vanquished’ has been a long time coming, but for fans of Warbringer, and thrash metal in general, the wait is definitely worth it. Treading a very delicate line of being a thrash album while also bordering more traditional metal and melodic metal, Woe to the Vanquished creates a sound that is quite refreshing in a genre which has become diluted over the years and Warbringer has really set themselves out from the crowd with this album which is a must have for any thrash metal fan.