Review Summary: Holding steady in the upper echelon of re-thrash.
2013 has been a troubling year for thrash metal enthusiasts. Many albums released by respected bands have been somewhat disappointing, such as the stale Super Collider or the monotonous Unnatural Selection. Fortunately, it has not been all bad. Empires Collapse is solid proof that, though it may have lost some steam in the year, the thrash revival is still going strong. Warbringer's fourth release, the album sees more of the same, with some experimentation thrown in, with interesting results.
The strengths of the band are still just that, but they seem to have refined the formula used for their song writing. While one of the issues of the earlier albums was a lack of variety, leading to the album losing momentum. Fortunately, there is enough to distinguish each song from the last, and what the album lacks in originality, it makes up for in quality. Warbringer are not re-inventing the wheel, rather making little touches upon what has been proven to be successful. It ultimately pans out well, as the album is easily digestible. Tracks such as the frenzied Scars Remain
showcase the band at their zenith, unleashing every strength the band has into one absolute flurry of quick, brutal prowess.
Something refreshing to see is the band attempting to experiment with their typical sound. While each track is still definitively Warbringer, there is a greater variety in tempo and tone. While earlier releases offered no break from the unrelenting speed, this album seems to switch up the overall pace nicely. Tracks such as Turning of the Gears
take a middle of the road pace, and these slower tracks space out the chaos well. In addition to new tempos, the band has also tried taking a somewhat less serious approach to their music. Much of the album features a lighter guitar tone, which works in some cases, such as the stellar Off With Their Heads!
, but sometimes feels jarring. For example, the track Iron City
is all about simply partying and playing some heavy metal. It's all fun, but the issue is the placement. It is merely the second track after the aforementioned Scars Remain, a track which focuses on the dark side of rock and roll, such as drug addiction and bodily harm.
In making small adjustments to their established sound, Warbringer has created an album which should be enough to satisfy most fans that have been following the band from the beginning. However, the greater variety in the album has helped them greatly, and while it doesn't always work out as well as it could, it still makes for an entertaining listen which may open the band up to anybody that was previously turned off by the dark, brooding nature of the band.
Off With Their Heads!