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Warbringer: Weapons Of Tomorrow

At this late date most Thrash enthusiasts have probably formed their opinions about Warbringer's latest release from early last year. Be that as it may, this is a great moment to shine a light on their 2020 masterpiece Weapons Of Tomorrow. Especially as we enter a post-pandemic reality which may finally bring music back to the live stage.

Promo material discussed their approach... the science of thrash and all that. But the proof of the proverbial pudding is in the listening. No more dangerous a test site than in the car... does the intensity of the music drive your foot to the floor?, reaching insane speeds before you know what's happening? Could it be the stuff exploding out of the speakers that's responsible for that ticket? Right out the gate Weapons Of Tomorrow comes charging forth with a statement of purpose, power and speed on 'Firepower Kills.' The blazing guitars of Adam Carroll and Chase Becker harmonize and bleed into each other, presenting a unified frontal assault that continues throughout the track, and the album. This partnership, now two albums old, has locked in tight, with Carroll providing the more composed and controlled approach and Becker going for the shred-fest. The driving force here and everywhere on Weapons Of Tomorrow is drummer Carlos Cruz, who is joined in his rhythmic attack by new bassist Chase Bryant, who brings serious chops to the rhythmic mission. Singer John Kevill's strength is his ability to build character(s) into his songs through stylistic diversity that gets increasingly seamless as the years tick by. He pulls upon Thrash, Death and Black metal stylings for just the right effect on each song, sometimes multiple styles on one track, as is done to great effect on 'Firepower Kills.'

Weapons Of Tomorrow is the strongest Warbringer album yet for a variety of reasons beyond just the instrumental strength of the line-up. A big one is the heavy dose of melodic composition served up by the writing team. Kevill provides solid lyrics investigating the dark side of today's world and providing a, let's call it cautionary, voice to the proceedings, while also contributing to the music. Carlos Cruz proves the leading MVP candidate as sole writer or co-writer of the music for every track. Mainstay Adam Carroll contributes to the music of several tracks as well. Track two 'The Black Hand Reaches Out' delves into the madness of cult-driven mind control with a driving chugging riff, the like of which we've heard many times and yet here it seems fresh and immediate. Uncannily prescient on the part of Kevill, this song, obviously written prior to the January 6 insurrection, speaks directly to the kind of madness we witnessed, and the mindlessness behind it. Aiding his portrait of robotic insanity are the driving rhythm and searing leads from Becker and Carroll.

'Crushed Beneath The Tracks' continues the dark musing with a look into the relentlessness and uncaring nature of 'progress.' Here is another blender of styles, mixing black metal instrumental segments with Maiden-style harmony playing, a thrash break in the middle and searling solos from both guitarists, topped by another multiple vocal style presentation. I've heard Warbringer accused of not having a style unique to themselves, but increasingly I think the blender IS their style, and it works beautifully here. 'Crushed Beneath The Tracks' leads nicely into its spiritual companion piece, 'Defiance of Fate,' which follows a hero's journey from despair to defiance starting with a haunting intro from Bryant, a blackened vocal from Kevill, and a melodic solo from Becker after the verse. The next lead guitar break, this time from drummer Cruz, further proves his versatility. The poignantly melodic climax to the song serves as a reminder that heroic posturing can be as futile as it is inspiring. 'Unraveling' is as aggressive and thrashy as its title suggests, Kevill providing a picture of instability and isolation that again touches on personal issues that have risen to the forefront during the past year. Midway the arrangement right-turns into a proggy riff that carries the song to an abrupt end. The title pretty much says it all, as does the final line "Too late, too late, too late."

'Heart of Darkness' opens the second half of Weapons Of Tomorrow. Another affecting bass intro again leads into the blender, this time with a somewhat more progressive approach as Kevill takes a righteous moral look at Joseph Conrad's themes of imperialism and racism, the lust of wealth-seeking colonizers and the darkness in their hearts that leads to unspeakable tragedy. The arrangement is a well-suited mix of complexity and aggression.

'Power Unsurpassed' and 'Outer Reaches' deliver somewhat more straight ahead themes like abuse of power and escape into space to somewhat more straight ahead arrangements but are nevertheless powerful and memorable. These tracks lead into the final two pieces that complete the creative cycle of this album, 'Notre Dame (King Of Fools)' and 'Glorious End.' 'Notre Dame' boasts the familiar creepy theme of a misguided and deformed bell ringer, and equally creepy riffs to carry the narrative along to brilliantly traded solos from Carroll and Becker. Crossing another verse brings us to a beautiful and inspired guitar interlude from Carroll, followed by a pummeling finale. 'Glorious End' is a fitting title for the final song of any album and the character comes to the expected tragic end. While the story is exactly what we would expect within the thematic framework of Weapons Of Tomorrow, it is delivered with unrelenting power and aggression and melody aplenty, which is the name of the game on this album.

As someone who doesn't normally dwell on lyrical content, I have to depart from the norm and state how much I appreciate the clearly presented theme of this album - in our time of divisiveness and violence it is welcomed and needed. As Thrash bands go Warbringer has landed at the top of the heap. Worthy to hang in the company of veterans such as Overkill, Testament, Dark Angel and Exodus, nobody is doing it better right now. I pray these guys can maintain consistency and deliver more on the promise of this line-up. Weapons Of Tomorrow is definitely in the discussion for my top 2020 release, and yes that includes releases by Hakan, Flower Kings, Katatonia, Sons Of Apollo, Testament and Kansas, to name a few. This album kicks fuckin' ass and its the best Warbringer has ever been. More like this please.

Track List:
1. Firepower Kills
2. The Black Hand Reaches Out
3. Crushed Beneath the Tracks
4. Defiance of Fate
5. Unraveling
6. Heart of Darkness
7. Power Unsurpassed
8. Outer Reaches
9. Notre Dame (King of Fools)
10. Glorious End

Added: April 19th 2021
Reviewer: Keith Fotheringham
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 717
Language: english

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