By now I am sure that many of you have read reviews doing exactly what I am about to do: heap massive praise on Woe to the Vanquished, the brand new album from WARBRINGER (out now, Napalm Records). And there’s a reason for that. After three years and some change, singer John Kevill and Co. have finally dropped a record on our heads that will no doubt grapple to the last with KREATOR’S Gods of Violence for my Thrash Metal Album of 2017!! I will try to keep my gushing over this one to a minimum but that’s going to be extremely hard since everything about it screams greatness.
This is eight tracks of in-your-face Thrash Metal that is equal parts punishing and complex: ruthless thrash riffing combined with thought-provoking lyrics delivered in fiery fashion make for a musical Molotov cocktail if ever I heard one. Disc opener and first single “Silhouettes” sets the tone and bar high for what’s to come, and actually ups the ante on itself midway through. Title track “Woe to the Vanquished” is definitely one of the album’s best, a tale of the conquering and the conquered. It victimizes you from start to finish. The dual guitar threat of Adam Carroll and Chase Becker is absolutely gutting, with solos that slice you to pieces, just out-fucking-standing!!
“Remain Violent” musically and lyrically will smack you in the mouth, drawing fresh blood: “The constant threat of a shot to the chest, but defending yourself is resisting arrest!” was never more true than it is now. Let’s talk about Mr. Kevill’s vocals on this record, but especially on “Descending Blade.” He has this scream he does that I can only liken to an eagle as it pins its wings back and descends top speed upon unsuspecting prey. It’s effectively used all over the album, but this is one where it just hits even harder, if that’s possible. Carlos Cruz (drums) and Jessie Sanchez (bass) drive the train on this one, shifting the tempo at will and daring you to keep up.
“Spectral Asylum” is more of a grinder, Kevill sounding if possible more evil than usual, especially on the chorus, while “Shellfire” has this insane build-up before it breaks down, then takes off like a rocket. I can only imagine trying to work out to this track! The dual harmonized guitar intro and smash-everything-in-sight groove to “Divinity of Flesh” shows that this is still the WARBRINGER we know and love, but with much more “ooomph!”, and that’s a wonderful thing. This brings me to closer “When the Guns Fell Silent,” an eleven minute epic that has my name written all over it. More than a song, this is a journey, and one that must be heard to be believed.
Over the course of these eleven minutes you will feel the power of the music and the words in a way you may not be used to. Is it still heavy? Of course. Is it ambitious? Bet your ass it is! But is it GOOD? Well, “good” wouldn’t even be doing the intro justice, let alone the song itself. This one left “good” in the rearview many miles back. My favorite sequence starts at the five minute mark and goes till around 8:43. Just listen, you’ll get it. At the end of the day WARBRINGER are back, and back with one motherfucker of a vengeance. Woe to the Vanquished is an incredible album from the first note to the last, and one that all you thrashers absolutely NEED in your collection!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM