There has been this resurgence of thrash metal recently and some is quite good and some, not so much. I first heard Warbringer back in 2008 when they opened up for Finntroll and the first thing I remember thinking is that this was some pretty good thrash metal albeit a bit sloppy so they really didn’t fit into the great thrash category but they definitely not in the “not so much” end of the spectrum either. I think my problem with them has been and always will be the vocals. Don’t get me wrong, I take absolutely nothing away from front man John Kevill at all. This guy has worked really hard to keep this band together when all seemed hopeless. It’s just that his vocals teeter on the verge of being part Mille Petrozza shrieks mixed with what sounds like metalcore shouts and I absolutely abhor -core vocals.
I have every one of their albums and I like each one in their own way. 2013’s IV: Empires Collapse made me look at them a little differently. These songs were mature and well thought out and it appeared all was going great for this band. However, their struggles to keep a line up together plagued this band and in 2014, John Kevill was forced to make some serious decisions. Well, obviously he made the decision to keep going because you are reading this review of their fifth full length, Woe to the Vanquished. After several listens to this album I feel that this album is a good return but a bit of a step back from it’s predecessor.
I think the biggest problem with this album is that it has a slight lack of coherence. Some tracks on here are killer thrash songs with monster riffs and seriously killer solos while some tracks seem almost filler. Not that every song has to be fast and brutal but it seems that when they try to do something other than just play pummeling thrash they come up a bit short. The album closer, “When the Guns Fell Silent” comes to mind here. It’s over eleven minutes long for a band that rarely writes anything over four minutes. I also think shorter thrash songs work better. But here they try to be epic and it kinda missed the mark. The song is not that bad, it’s just that a song like this does not fare well with those thrash/-core vocals. The vocals tend to get annoying on this album but for the most part they are thrash vocals that mix well with thrash music but this is not a really thrashy song. It also appears that they are trying to make sure the eleven minutes gets filled and it shows.
Then you have an all out ass kicking thrasher like “Descending Blade.” This song may not be the fastest thrash song but it’s got some killer riffs and great solos. “Spectral Asylum” has a lot of layers to it and in this instance it seems to really work. It has a lot of time changes and a lot of parts but they seem to do a great job of keeping it interesting. Contrary to that, “Remain Violent” is a moment where less is more. This song is great in it’s simplicity and is fun to listen to. “Divinity of Flesh” is another really strong point on this album. The tremolo riffs that start the song give this song life and they use some of that same riffing throughout the song. The solos on this song are just insane. One of the better tracks on this album.
I am glad that Mr. Kevill was able to keep this band together and make another album. When this band is on, they are really on. I just think they need more cohesion in their music. If they can avoid the mistakes of this album and concentrate on making kick ass thrash songs, their next output could be their magnum opus.