After the critical success of their debut album, “War Without End” (hell, even Revolver Magazine listed it as one of their top albums of 2008 which still floors me), I was shocked to hear so soon from WARBRINGER. When inspiration hits though, I suppose it’s hard to hold it back and their sophomore effort “Waking Into Nightmares” is anything but held back. WARBRINGER are definitely back and they’ve brought the war.
Bringing that still notoriously old school Thrash sound with them, WARBRINGER have done a lot of things to just better their writing and overall presentation of music. They still retain that sound that made their first album a romp to listen to, such as the attitude and the complete sense of having ‘fun’ while playing to add to their already competent Thrash style, but this album is tighter and, dare I say, more mature overall. Their songwriting abilities have grown threefold since the last release and they have created their own unique sound completely this time which adds so much value to their music. All the songs keep that catchiness without dumbing down the genre, the opener “Jackal” has no vocal chorus and still happens to be very catchy, and some of them just reek of mainstream quality without the dark side of what that usually upholds.
To add to their increased presence in songwriting is their more than amazing performances. The guitars rip from riff to riff (I’m pretty sure that they go through five riffs before the lyrics come up in the opening of “Severed Reality”) and flurry into finger tearing leads and soloing while the bass has a renewed sound and energy in the mix to add what I would almost consider a third riff. Normally, I would give my most valuable performance to the guitarists but this time around their new drummer, Nic Ritter, whose style and nuances give WARBRINGER a whole new level of awesome that they never had before. Throw on Kevill’s already awesome spatting Thrash vocals and this is a band ready to throwdown with the world, win lose or draw.
I must also add that there is one more element that had made WARBRINGER even more volatile on “Waking Into Nightmares”. That would be Gary Holt in the producer chair. One of my big issues with their first album was its 1986 production value that had charm but ultimately hindered it from sounding amazing. Holt’s stellar and downright sick production on this album brought forth the best element of every member and the band as a whole. Tips to him!
If you love Thrash Metal then this new WARBRINGER is a must have. It’s one of the best albums of the year for any genre and their energy and renewed sound is something to cherish as the Thrash resurgence starts producing more and more sub par sounding Thrash bands. “Waking Into Nightmares” is nothing but a dream for Thrash!
Songs to check out: “Living In A Whirlwind”, “Severed Reality”, “Prey For Death”.
(Online June 4, 2009)