I might not be the right person to do a write up of the new Warbringer. See, as much as I might love to write about doom and black metal, Warbringer's IV: Empires Collapse dropped when I was 17 and it rapidly became a go to album for me. It was the thrash metal record that hit me at just the right time in my musical development as to ensure that the band always had a special place in my heart and their proud flaunting of bands like Bathory and Demolition Hammer drove me deeper into the confines of the underground than ever before. The odes to war, partying and fantasy captured my imagination and got me incredibly invested into the band. So you can imagine how I feel four years later with Woe To The Vanquished ringing through my ears. Sure I may be a totally different person, a college dropout and a Brooklynite, but the almighty Warbringer have proven that they reign eternal and no matter what the circumstances. This record is easily their most exciting yet, a powerful step forward for a band who always seemed untouchable.
Sure we all knew this band was John Kevill's baby, but I think that before this record it hadn't been clear how much his force of personality and dominating voice make the band so special. The devastating "OOOH" at the beginning of "Remain Violent" is simply another great reminder of how utterly magnificent this band is. In an era where extreme metal vocalists are treated as easily replacable John Kevill brings things to the next level, not even touching on the fact that he is one of the worlds best live frontmen. Of course it's not just the John Kevill show, the grooves on this record push the band to a new level, there is a certain heaviness and a distilled understanding of the thrash ouevre such that you find yourself investigating nooks and crannies you never thought possible of a so called re-thrash band.. The bands range of influences is such that as much as they might touch on the influences of their peers in bands like Havok or Vektor they are distinctly their own thing. There is a certain flame for truly underground music that has always made Warbringer special and it is highly prevalent throughout this record.
Warbringer is, and always has been, a highly percussive band. The balls out assault is delicious and focuses on big choruses and staccato punches to the gut. Woe To The Vanquished is miles ahead of their last few records, and even those were miles ahead of the first couple. The future seems bright for Warbringer, and not just because I love the idea of a history professor fronting a thrash metal band. They have tapped into something greater here, something that touched on their early promise and brings them well into the next generation of the genre. This is a band who have always sat at the forefront and they use Woe To The Vanquished as proof positive that they are among the greatest thrash acts in the land. In a world where most heavy music is made pretty or antiseptic Warbringer come at you warts and all to grind your face into the dirt and kick you in the ribs. You know you want in on this.