This is the review I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write. A review of WARBEAST and their new album – scratch that, their FINAL album…Enter the Arena (out now, Housecore Records). I lived in Dallas, TX for three years and this band, in addition to having national and international acclaim, always packed houses whenever they played in Deep Ellum, home to the finest metal community on the planet. I remember the first time I saw them live in the summer of 2013 at Three Links. The place was wall-to-wall people, and when they plugged in and played, the place went batshit, rightfully so. Because this band embodies what the spirit of Thrash Metal is all about: Loud, nasty, in-your-face, and with fucking attitude for days!
An interesting postscript to that story is that when they were done playing the place pretty much cleared out, leaving the headliner (who shall remain nameless) a sparse crowd of about 25 people. But anyway, onto more important matters. Vocalist Bruce Corbitt had to announce his sudden retirement earlier this year due to stage 3 Esophageal Cancer. No more singing for him (at least for now. I am still optimistic about his chances!), so WARBEAST has rightly decided to hang it up. I interviewed him recently, so look for that very soon. But man, are they going out on one motherfucker of a high note with this record. One listen to opening track “Centuries of Poisoned Soil” and you’ll see what I mean right away. Talk about the right way to start an album!!
The twin guitar brutality of Scott Shelby and Drew Shoup simply slices you to ribbons on “Punishment For Gluttony” and the rhythm section of Lyric Ferchaud (bass) and Joey Gonzalez (drums) is in total lockstep here. You can feel that bottom end and kick drum hit you right in the chest, too. I told Bruce that “Orchestration of Violence” was now my favorite WARBEAST song when Liz from Earsplit PR first sent me an advance of the album, and that is still the absolute truth. It not only has the bestest and most biting guitar riffs and solos on this whole thing, but is also a headbanging monster from beginning to end. It really sucks that I’m not hearing it live anytime soon.
“Maze of the Minotaur” at times strays over into NWOBHM territory, something that caught me by surprise, albeit pleasantly so. It’s definitely one of the most melodic on the record, but not at the expense of its heaviness, because it rips big-time. One of the jewels in the crown of this album is without a doubt “Hitchhiker.” If you haven’t seen the 18-minute long mini-movie by now then shame on you. This song fucking OWNS. “Chemicals Consuming” is a very unique number and starts out a little different from the other tunes, but then thrashes like crazy. Title track “Enter the Arena” reminded me of some good old back-in-the-day Thrash and made me wanna hurl a chair through the nearest window and/or set shit on fire just for the fuck of it. I’m sick, I know.
The disc ends with a trio of heavy-hitters in “The Scalping”, which allows Gonzalez to truly shine, “Conjuration With the Devil”, a track that builds and builds until it erupts like a thrashy volcano, and “Ancient Hate”, another favorite from jump. The boys really let loose on this one, that’s for sure. At the end of the day Enter the Arena is a fucking bad bitch of an album, one that any tr00 Thrash Metal enthusiast would be crazy not to pick up. This thing will cause neck issues for anyone who listens to it, and that’s a good thing. And if this is truly goodbye for WARBEAST, then I can think of no finer way for them to say so. Thank you for the music, gentlemen. And Bruce, prayers for a speedy recovery and clean bill of health! ~dc
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM