Warning Sign - Left to the Sharks - (8.5/10)
Published on December 14, 2017
Genre:Thrash / Heavy Metal
When it comes to the Quebecois music scene, I’ve really only delved into the region’s fantastic black metal presence (and Cacuhemar among others). So when confronted with Warning Sign, a Quebec-based heavy/thrash metal band, I had no expectations or preconceptions. Looking at the band’s photos, which look like some third rate southern-Pantera-groove schlock, and seeing their rather generic influences listed on their Facebook page (Megadeth, Testament, Metal Church), I prepped for the worst type of local bar gig trash and turned on Left to the Sharks, the band’s debut, self-released full length album.
Thankfully Warning Sign’s approach to metal resides somewhere in the gray realms that surround thrash, USPM and traditional metal, rather than the “wok on homeboi” stuff I was expecting. Classy thrash riffs mix with muscled traditional metal riffing for a rather entertaining listen that brings equal parts Anthrax and Riot. Though the thrashing riffs are more interesting than third rate pizza thrash, the faster moments on Left to the Sharks do come across as derivative, although they steer clear of being altogether boring. The band even explicitly states that they’re not reinventing wheel at all. Where the band really starts to shine is when the thrash gives way to a more traditional metal sound, which is mostly during breaks and choruses. These moments offer striking lead runs, dual guitar harmonies, and a crisp, clear sound that sounds like it could have been lifted straight from Thundersteel or Battle Cry.
The vocals are the band’s biggest selling point, as Maxim Beaulieu’s vocals are clear and forceful; sounding like an amalgamation of Joey Belladonna, Mark Osegueda, and David Wayne. Moving nimbly from a clear, resonating shout to higher wails to catchy vocal hooks, Beaulieu’s performance pushes the instrumentation to the background. That’s not to say the vocals overpower everything on the mix, because the production is fantastic, it’s just that his vocals are so competently performed that the rest of the band stood no chance.
Though the music is intentionally derivative, the general USPM, power/thrash leaning and fantastic vocals push this into a quite memorable debut. There’s plenty of here for both thrash fiends and traditional metal heads to dig into. Left to the Sharks isn’t exactly a modern classic, but it’s damn good for what it is. If nothing else, the solid performance on this album should start attracting some label attention, because, if these guys keep at it, that modern classic I mentioned before could become a reality.