Released: 2013, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
California’s WARBRINGER are one of a select group of thrash bands that sing almost exclusively about war. (Their name is a bit of a giveaway, in case you hadn’t guessed). Since their formation in 2004 and eventual signing to Century Media Records in 2007, they have released three battle-soaked albums: “War Without End” in 2008, “Waking Into Nightmares” in 2009, and 2011’s “Worlds Torn Asunder”. The end of October this year sees them releasing album number four, “IV: Empires Collapse” (on the 28th in Europe and the 29th in the USA). Will it continue along a similar vein, as the title seems to suggest?
The answer is yes...and no. While there are definitely quite a few songs that have captured the ‘epic-y, quite power metal-y modern thrash’ sound of their previous releases, this time they have broadened their lyrical content to rage against politicians, the environment and other modern day pitfalls and concerns. This lyrical expansion is matched by a clear musical progression, too: from the slightly flat, uneven production of their first album, through the addition of more complexity and layering to their sound, this is clearly a band growing in confidence and ability.
Album opener ‘Horizon’ sets the scene accordingly, with its Metallica-esque classical guitar intro and outro bookending quite a massive-sounding tune, all screaming vocals and thrash/power metal chaos. From there, the band throw track after track of modern thrash our way, including such gems as the snarly riffs and thrashy cymbals of ‘One Dimension’, the guttural, staccato vocals and epic flavour of ‘Hunter-Seeker’ (high note klaxon!) and the bass-tastic chugging riff of ‘Dying Light’, with lyrics seemingly coming from Beezelbub himself.
Their influences are pretty clear (a dollop of Metallica, a splash of Sabbath and even a touch of punk, as can be heard on the likes of ‘The Turning of the Gears’ and the fast and furious ‘Off With Their Heads!’). But this is no mere cobbling together of interests to create a headache-inducing mish-mash: in ‘IV...’ WARBRINGER have created a cohesive fireball of an album, full of enough twists and turns to keep even the most discerning of thrash fans happy. The production is concise, the vocals are vociferous and resounding, and the instruments all enjoy equal prominence.
“But what about the ‘war’ in WARBRINGER?”, you ask plaintively? Well, fear not. There is still plenty of combat and strife here for your delectation. It’s just, as modern-day warfare is under constant change, so to WARBRINGER have expanded their definition of what war is. These days you don’t have to be on the battlefield to be at war. And on ‘IV: Empires Collapse’ WARBRINGER have captured that perfectly.
Review by Melanie Brehaut