Warbringer – Weapons of Tomorrow Review

Warbringer has been bringing the war to thrash since 2006, breathing life back into the classic 80s sound with a powerhouse blend of Bay Area legends like Exodus, Death Angel and Testament. On 2017’s Woe to the Vanquished they expanded their sound outward, incorporating black metal influences into their thrash template with interesting if not always completely successful results. On sixth album, Weapons of Tomorrow, they’ve thrown caution to the wind, upped the ante on blackened edges and even managed to shove prog and death metal elements into the highly volatile mix they brewed up in their junkyard science lab. And what’s the result of such madcap machinations? A maniacally monstrous thrash opus that’s a massive improvement over the last album. And when I say massive, I mean really fookin’ massive! The band always possessed the tools to burn the thrash scene down around them, and though they’ve penned some great songs, they hadn’t produced that one completely killer platter. They have now and then some.

A great thrash album must wield a wicked cudgel from go and bring the listener to their knees fast. Opening mega-track “Firepower Kills” does exactly that without mercy. It’s a face peeling furnace blast of pure adrenaline and does exactly what a thrash song should do – cause a near panic attack. It’s blistering stuff and fast for the sake of dangerous speed, but it’s also really, really catchy in a sick, rabies-positive kind of way. The guitar-work scorches and burns all around, with razor sharp riffs, gloriously excessive solos, and the requisite pit-friendly mid-tempo churn that will cost many a tooth on tour. Followup “The Black Hand Reaches Out” is equally good, but catchier, powered by burly, beefy riffs instead of blinding speed, and this is exactly Warbringer‘s wheelhouse. John Kevill’s bigger than life barks and war commands sit perfectly over the fat leads and he hams it up muchly for our amusement. Again, the guitars seal the deal, delivering the thrashy, noodley goods by the dumpster-full, making everything sound hefty and mean, yet polished and well thought out.

“Defiance of Fate” is where the album really opens up and goes exploring. Starting with gorgeously melodic fret-work reminiscent of classic Metallica sagas like “Sanitarium” or “Fade to Black,” the song shifts into black metal territory once Kevill’s vocals come in with harsh rasps and shrieks. The music however remains rooted in thrash idioms full of meaty riffs. Beautiful, emotive guitar harmonies and flourishes swirl in and out as the song shifts from dark to light, heavy to soft, ultimately morphing into enormous Amon Amarth-esque battle riffs and martial marching as Kevill goes all in vocally. It leaves a huge impression. “Heart of Darkness” is another massive song merging black metal into the thrash blueprint, with icy terms and blastbeats racing all over, this time counterpointed by thrash vocals. The guitar-work is stellar, suavely jumping between genres and continuously hooking the ear with tasty riffs and stupendous solos. The hits keep on coming with “Notre Dame (King of Fools),” which brings in traditional and black metal influences to retell Victor Hugo’s timeless tale and once again, you’ll be shredded to pieces with first-rate guitar work. Closing monster “Glorious End” is like a thrash retelling of Manowar‘s “Defender” as a man contemplates fear and courage before battle. It’s the most testosterone-soaked powerlifting-friendly tune I’ve heard in a good while and I can’t get enough of it.

There isn’t a bad song to be found, though the straight forward thrash blast of “Unraveling” feels less cutting edge than the rest of the material. The 50 minute runtime is very manageable and no song drags on too long. To say Adam Carroll and Chase Becker pushed their playing to the absolute limit seems insufficient to convey the level of sheer brilliance displayed on this album. There are so many memorable riffs, harmonies and solos here that it’s hard to absorb them all. This is a true thrash guitar clinic and you will be impressed unto death. John Kevill also ups his game as a vocalist, delivering a tour de force, easily transitioning from thrash to blackened deliveries and convincing with both styles. There’s a ton of diversity in the material and the band excels at shaking things up from track to track, incorporating enough disparate ingredients to keep it all fresh and exciting. They also show a vastly improved ability to blend different influences, which was something they struggled with last time out.

Weapons of Tomorrow is such a wildly entertaining, delirium inducing ride that it caught me completely off guard1. This is Warbringer‘s crowning achievement and it leaves their other albums in the dust. It’s the thrash album to beat in 2020, and beating it will not be easy. Invest in your future and check out Weapons of Tomorrow today.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: NA | Format Reviewed: Stream
Label: Napalm
Websites: warbringermusic.com | warbringer.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/warbringermusic
Releases Worldwide: April 24th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. And along with Dark Forest and Cirith Ungol, delivered a crushing blow to my yearly rating average.
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