Warbringer return with a new album and line-up after a four year absence. Woe To The Vanquished is eight tracks of thrash with a slight progressive influence. The initial single “Silhouettes” is based on a pounding mid-tempo beat and swirling guitar riff that speeds up during the chorus. The song has several rhythm changes and some thrashing riffs, but it sounds juvenile and a bit forced. Things improve on the title track which sounds like vintage Warbringer. It is dynamic thrash metal with manic drumming and guitarists Adam Carroll and Chase Becker throwing out some solid leads. The song’s lyrics delve in to the savagery of war as civilians are abused and killed and nations are conquered. “Remain Violent” touches on police brutality which is a hot topic in America. The song maintains a mid-tempo beat focusing on the lyrics more so than the music. One should commend the band for tackling controversial subjects and not sugar coating them. “Descending Blade” has an intense build-up that bursts into a thrash-fest. This song wades towards Exodus worship with its composition and riffing. The grooving mid-section will incite a mosh pit during the band’s shows and the track concludes in heavy fashion. “Divinity Of Flesh” is a mash of blastbeats and choppy guitar riffs. Somehow, the band keeps it together. The ethereal guitar lead during the mid-section and intertwining riffs are the track’s highlight. The final track “When The Guns Fell Silent” is a morose and dowtrodden 11-minute affair broken up in to five parts. The lyrical themes are inspired by English poets Siegfried Sassoon and Gilbert Frankau, giving an aura of authenticity to the music. It is a fitting end to an album centered on war.
Woe To The Vanquished shows the band has matured with its lyrical content. John Kevill is a doctoral student in history and it is obvious that his love for history influenced this record. War is an extremely popular subject in heavy metal, but few bands have written songs on it that standout. While Warbringer have not written a “One” or “War Ensemble,” Woe To The Vanquished as a whole is a strong concept record about war. The band has improved musically as well, although Warbringer is no Heathen or Exodus. It is good for a band to expand its sound, although some bands can do it quicker than others. Warbringer stumbles when it attempts to play complex progressive metal. However, it sounds good in increments and integrated in to the band’s signature sound.
Warbringer does it right on Woe To The Vanquished. The album may grab listeners instantly or it may grow on you. Still, the quintet has matured as a band and with this record are sure to increase their stock in heavy metal. The band’s devil-may-care approach to metal is still present and it is not a bad thing. In fact, Warbringer’s may be on its way to crafting its masterpiece.
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