Nostalgia can be a funny thing. It’s easy to look at the past through rose-colored glasses and pine for the days of yesteryear. When it comes to thrash metal in particular, this is certainly the case. While one can reminisce over classics like Hell Awaits and Agent Orange, there are plenty of newer groups still attempting to carry on old traditions.
An endeavor such as this usually goes in one of two ways; occasionally you get a band like Usurper, who manages to utilize the older methods while maintaining an original sound. On the other hand, you get groups who simply rehash old formulas without offering anything new. Luckily, Warband, the sophomore release from Texas-based thrash outfit Archangel A.D. falls into the former of those categories and not the latter.
As soon as one confronts the material they’re presented with, it’s clear that guitarists Jacob Garcia and Matthew Karr have done their homework. On the albums opening tracks “Unto the Evil” and “Blighting” the pair demonstrate a talent for frenetic paced riffing, galloping rhythms, and technical proficiency. Justin Lopez (bass/vocals) provides a robust rhythm between the two, complete with a vocal style reminiscent of Chuck Billy from Testament. One of the strongest aspects of Warband is its sleek production that allows every member of the band to shine on their own. Individual traits aside, there’s no denying the effectiveness of the group as a cohesive unit. To borrow an old cliché, they waste no time in going straight for the jugular.
The albums instrumental track “Enter The Temple” is a great throwback to similar titles such as “Into The Lungs of Hell” and “Inquisition Symphony.” While maintaining the thunderous pace of the album; it also provides a platform for the group to flex their creative muscle. Archangel A.D. also don’t fall into the trap of having countless songs about beer, pizza and partying which has sadly become the norm for many of their modern thrash contemporaries. Exploring fantasy and warfare, their lyrical content coincides with the music they perform. The finale, “Metal Horde” is a clear-cut example of what this release is offering, an homage that carries a fair deal of originality. The song itself can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with anthems such as “Metal Militia” or “Rattlehead.” It’s quick, unrelenting, and catchy enough to ensure you’ll be remembering it long after a first time listen.
Although there’s plenty of good material on the album, it does run into the problem of being too repetitive at times. While the slower tempo on “Evil Dreams” shows the groups ability to stay away from being too formulaic, there exists a need for the group to work on their diversity. Despite this, Archangel A.D. has come out swinging for the fences. If history has taught us anything about great thrash bands, it’s their ability to progress and develop with each new release. It’s more than safe to assume that we’re all eagerly awaiting what they’re going to offer us next.