Review Summary: Warbringer deliver a satisfying thrash assault that will please fans, but covers no new ground. Not that they seem to have a problem with that.....
Unless you've been living under a rock recently, you will have noticed this whole "thrash revival" thing that’s going on in the metal world right now. To sum it up, new, young bands are playing old school, 80's thrash. These bands ditched the more accessible styles of Metallica or Megadeth for more aggressive groups such as Exodus or Kreator. Warbringer is one of these upcoming bands, and are here to bring old school thrash into the 21st century.
One thing that impresses me about this band is their readiness to release a new album, as their debut "War without End" was released last year. Don't be fooled however, "Waking Into Nightmares" not only lives up to the former album, but surpasses it. Opener "jackal" might not pack as much of a punch as opener "Total War" from the debut, but it does the job nicely, with pounding drums, fast riffs and blistering solos. Basically, what you would expect from a thrash album.
the album begins on a heavy, fast note, and doesn't let up, so those looking for variation might be disappointed, despite the instrumental "Nightmare Anatomy", which I find spoils the flow of the album, yet it does provide some respite from the all-out thrash assault. Songs such as "Living in a Whirlwind" and "Senseless Life" showcase how Warbringer's songwriting has improved, and at the same time not strayed too far from their thrash metal roots.
What has changed is the structure of Warbringer's songs. They no longer follow a conventional structure, i.e. verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc. instead, they might play a verse and chorus, and then never revisit them again, as seen in "Severed Reality". Listeners may also find subtle differences in the nature of the songs themselves, for example, "Prey for Death" sounds a bit like a Death Angel song. They have taken care to make their songs less conventional and break out of a monotonous thrash style that became a bit boring on "War without End".
In terms of instrumentation, there has been a slight improvement. Riffs are more distinct due to the better production, and are quite catchy at some points, thanks to the new song structures. Guitar solos litter the album, which will satisfy any fan of shredding. The bass, despite usually just providing a base for the rest of the music, does actually shine through in "Prey for Death". The drums are quite impressive, both in their speed and their impact, courtesy of new drummer Nic Ritter. Vocalist John Kevill sticks to his thrash screams and yells, complimented by gang Vocals. It would difficult to imagine any other vocals on an album like this, so the vocals match the music well.
the lyrics of Warbringer's songs didn't stray very far from the usual thrash topics such as war, death, hell, etc. this album doesn't change that, songs such as "Forgotten Dead" provide imagery about a battlefield and the death upon it. I've never really been a fan of the lyrics of thrash metal, accepting that they match the intensity of the music, and this is evident on "Waking into Nightmares". However, it is lyrical topics that lead to a bit of repetition, as after track number five; you get a little tired of hearing about death and hell.
So those expecting a groundbreaking, breakthrough album from Warbringer will have to wait. This album is simply a thrash metal album, which, despite not being a tribute to older bands, isn't a new direction. Most fans won't have a problem with this, and Warbringer must be given props for not releasing a decent debut album and sitting on that for a few years before releasing new material. So if you are a fan of the band, this album is for you. It’s no progression, but a general improvement on all fronts.