Warbringer have been trying to set themselves up as one of the front-runners in the thrash metal revival movement, and they certainly have the chops and experience under their belt to try and carry the flag across the battlefield. Although I will admit at first I certainly wasn’t buying all the hype they were getting, especially when there’s such a huge influx of new-school/revival thrash metal in the state of California alone, such as Fueled by Fire, Hexen, Bonded by Blood, Exmortus, and of course the usual superstars of thrash metal that we are all acquainted with. Now that Warbringer have been tested through multiple demos, singles, full-lengths, and nationwide tours trying to demonstrate how to thrash correctly, they now set a new path with their latest album, “Worlds Torn Asunder”.
Right out of the gate we are greeted with the modern straight-ahead and no-holds-barred thrash approach that California (specifically the Bay Area) has made entirely its own. The best way that I can describe this meat locker of melodic hooks is if you merged both modern versions of Testament and Exodus together, and threw Mille Petrozza of Kreator on vocals. The riffs feel as if they were crafted by Alex Skolnick and Gary Holt, while the song structures definitely rely on catchy hooks and a driving bass rhythm. Everything is pretty by-the-books Bay Area thrash. While they are incredibly consistent and musically competent, this stagnation also hurt my ability to keep constant attention on the album.
While I am a man who loves his thrash metal to be, well, thrash, there is a bit more variation the band could have done with “Worlds Torn Asunder” to keep the listener engaged longer. There were far too many tracks where it felt like the first couple minutes were nothing but precursors to the real build-up, where the second portions of the songs would really kick into high-gear (i.e. “Living Weapon”, “Enemies of the State”, “Savagery”, and “Echoes of the Void”), and you didn’t have to think you were listening to a thrash metal album. No, no… you were bombarded with a thrash metal album. Sadly, those moments of clarity come too late at times, and I found myself just wanting to hit the next track.
There are also some pieces of songs that just really take me out of the listening experience, as they make the music feel disjointed, and at times, random. These occurrences are rare, but when they happen, it is glaringly obvious, especially in “Shattered Like Glass”. The only song that I feel I didn’t have any real issues with was “Treacherous Tongue”. It has a very energetic and dominating tone, making you bang your head like you’re supposed to. The riffs feel very connected and well-thought, and the solos remind me a bit of “Black Magic” by Slayer. Most important of all, it doesn’t wear out its own welcome by being longer than it has to be. That is the kind of thrash metal I was hoping for throughout the album.
While the meat of this album isn’t what I had hoped for, the production values are pretty good. I know sometimes I really want that old-school aesthetic of an album being recorded on a two-deck stereo system with that raw emotional feeling put behind it as the music blasts onward. But, every once in a while I’ll find myself wishing for something a bit more polished and audible, and there is no shortage of that on “Worlds Torn Asunder”. You can hear every strike of the drums, every pick of the guitar strings, every groove of the bass, and the harshness in the vocals as they go for that deep faux-falsetto.All in all, I was really hoping that by now I would be a Warbringer fan. They sure do put on a hell of a live show, but when it comes to their studio material I just cannot get on board. There are lots of elements I like, but they are quickly cancelled out by the band playing it safe. I’m not sure if they wanted to try and go with a more easily accessible material in “Worlds Torn Asunder”, but whatever the case may be, my thirst for blistering thrash metal was not met. There are a couple songs that I will definitely listen to again, but am I willing to go through the entire album again anytime soon? Not likely.