REVIEW: WARBEAST – “Enter The Arena”
Warbeast are a relatively young band who established themselves just over a decade ago during a time when the whole retro-thrash & old school metal trend was in full swing. They, a Texas band who chose to take on this genre and write music more carefree rather than trying to study and replicate a style, started out with Krush the Emeny and Destroy and are back this year with their third studio album, ‘Enter the Arena’.
The group is spearheaded by front man Bruce Corbitt and with its twin crunch distortion by guitarists Scott Shelby and Drew Shoup, bellowing bass guitar from Lyric Ferchaud and the whole thing topped off by drummer Joey Gonzalez, right from the start it has a very clear and old school sound to it. Shelby has quoted that “We always like to attack the audience with our songs and move them”, and this holds true with their opening songs “Centuries of Poisoned Soil” and “Punishment for Gluttony”. However, the attack tends to die down with the slightly extended chorus’ and guitar riffs. I feel the first number could have been a whole minute shorter because it’s a repetition of the same riff over and over, an example of how more is not always better.
The album picks up pace around the middle with songs like “Maze of the Minotaur”, “Hitchhiker” and gives the album a very video game like feeling. It’s like every song is a level with its own battles and moving toward a grand finale boss battle as depicted in their album artwork which is done with an classic arcade style. There are a few tracks which have some very good and interesting riffs which work well with the slightly odd-timing drum patterns like the title track “Enter the arena” and “Chemicals Consuming”. Then there are some like “The Scalping” which do not. So continuing along the video game theme, the album comes to a close with the final song “Ancient Hate”, which is a good song but left me yearning for a little more, like an abrupt boss battle finale. The addition of dialogue and sound effects in the end of the last song and as heard in “Orchestration of Violence” do add some layers, but it does not necessary feel like an integral part of it.
This album has some good songs but some could have used better structuring. Sometimes the passages are too long and in places where it could have been interesting, it’s too short thus making it less engaging to the listener over time. Production could have been better too, the guitars are a little too in your face, leaving very little room for the vocals and bass in the mix. The drums are left behind also, too far in the back. However, the group does very well with their song writing and how naturally it comes to them and it does not feel forced or artificial. It would also make a very good video game soundtrack.
‘Enter the Arena’ serves as an exhibition to the sheer potential this band possesses. Few modern bands can make old school metal with the natural ease Warbeast can and thus giving their music more authenticity. I’d definitely recommend keeping an eye out for these guys and their future music.