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Album Review: WARBRINGER IV: Empires Collapse

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How long can you keep a nostalgia act running and keep it fresh and exciting? Pretty long apparently if you're Warbringer. And even longer if you begin to branch out from that nostalgia and add your own flavors to the mix. With IV: Empires Collapse, Warbringer has continued to carve out their own identity. When you're listening to this record, you won't easily confuse it with other neo-thrash releases, you can tell it's Warbringer. And that's good. Very good.

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Two things to address before talking about the important stuff (you know, the music). How about that artwork? If one didn't know better, it'd be easy to think Warbringer was either a Kyuss-loving stoner metal band, or perhaps a more classic rock tinged vest metal band. Not a bit of it! Warbringer is still very much a thrash metal act, just with a few other death-y and progressive pins on their uniform. And honestly, I don't think a band should ever number their albums unless they started with that approach in the first place. We know you've made three albums before this, you don't have to tell us again.

As Warbringer albums tend to do, Empires Collapse starts out with an awesome atomic blast, "Horizon". Other major highlights include the excellent, Kreator-style beatdown of "Scars Remain" and the dramatic "One Dimension". The latter track which begins with the declaration, "I cannot believe what I see, what happened to society?", which may sound clichéd on the page, but is executed so well that you cannot help but get pumped when listening to it. With some excellent guitar work and a punishing rhythm section, there's much to love on Empires Collapse.

There are many moments where the band seems to be sliding off the tracks into the fiery chasm of death metal territory, but they manage to skirt the line just enough to still "sound like thrash". And while there is nothing wrong with this in principle, you sometimes wish they would go more in a different direction and just let the growls and blast beats fly. But then you hear a song like "Iron City" and you think…yea never mind, just keep doing more of this.

It's true that at times the band still sounds like a derivative of their 1980's heroes, especially Slayer and Kreator. And there are a couple songs here that feel like needless filler, like the less-than-remarkable "Dying Light". But there are enough strong moments to make you either not notice or not care enough to hold it against them.

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Favorite Songs: "Horizon", "One Dimension", "Scars Remain", "Iron City", "Towers of the Serpent"

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