Released: 2015, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
While African metal bands are something of an exotic rarity, South Africa's Wargrave have been kicking around since 2011. And though they have yet to land a label deal, the band did manage to put together a relatively accomplished – and great sounding - self-released debut album that currently is available on a “pay what you want” basis on Bandcamp.
Anyone curious enough to check it out – either for free or by tossing the quintet a few bucks, or rand as the case may be, for the privilege – will probably find it worth their while. The band's sleek, streamlined but exuberant clamor is on par with some of today's more accomplished revivalist thrash bands - Holy Grail, Exmortus, Havok, etc. - though with a slightly more snub-nosed delivery thanks to frontman Heinrich Kollner's Hatebreed-like bark.
Though Void's sound is certainly nothing unique – taking pages from the books of Megadeth, Exodus, Kreator, etc. - it's well crafted and proficiently played. Guitarists Justin Ross and Brendan Snubbs make an especially formidable tag-team, delivering an impressive array of spitfire riffs, chugging, moshable hooks and fleet dogfight and tandem leads. The rather fantastic eight-minute closing epic “Blind To The Light” gives them a chance to really go off, and they do with aplomb.
On the flip side, “Blood On The Hands Of The Holy” is an all-business rager that gets the album off to a bruising start, only to then get tripped up by the acoustic instrumental “Delusions of Grandeur” that should have been placed anywhere other than where it was. After nearly six minutes of the Testament-like chunkiness of “From The Shadow,” the album finally regains its momentum with the ass-ripping “Mutual Enemy.”
But while sequencing may still be a work in progress for the band, they've already got the production aspect just about down to a science. Void has a potent, crisp, natural and very professional sound that any self-respecting band – especially one from as far off the metal beaten path as these guys are - would kill to have, be it on their debut or otherwise. There's plenty of sock and nuance here, which makes for a pretty fair trade for the somewhat derivative material.
Regardless, Wargrave deserve a listen, especially since they are going out of their way to make that as easy as possible. And 36 or so minutes of your time isn't that much to ask, is it?