“Warbringer” Woe to the Vanquished – CD REVIEW by Adam McCann

Record: Napalm Records 2017

It is very interesting and also slightly amusing how musical genres, come, go and revive, usually in a 20-year cycle and thrash metal is no different. There are always those bands which stay true to their roots and continue to hammer out what they do best and there are those which experiment with their sound adding different edges to their sound. But in this 20-year cycle, it isn’t always about the established bands and thrash metal has spawned many fantastic bands in its rampage across the globe.

Exploding like a thunderous volley of shellfire onto the thrash metal scene in 2008, Warbringer’s name says it all with a good portion of their music focusing upon warfare. This running theme is done is true thrash metal style, think Disposable Heroes by Metallica, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due by Megadeth and War Ensemble by Slayer rather than the story telling done by the likes of Sabaton and other power metal bands. Warbringer signed a deal with Century Media Records releasing 4 albums, each album getting better before moving on to Napalm Records and releasing their latest album, Woe to the Vanquished.

Woe to the Vanquished follows on in the same vein as their previous album, IV: Empires Collapse with many similar ideas being batted about; a testament to vocalist John Kevill and guitarist Adam Carroll, the only two remaining original members after a near fatal line-up shuffle in 2014. In a nutshell, if you happened to like IV: Empires Collapse, then Woe to the Vanquished will be hugely appealing. However, there are few subtle differences, the first half of Woe to the Vanquished is fast, heavy and brutal. The album fires rapidly straight off the bat with the song that announced a new Warbringer album, Silhouettes, as it forcefully pulls you into the album with its machine gun intro riff before descending into Testament style beat that bullies you into headbanging along to its nuclear holocaust lyrics. This brutality doesn’t stop there, Warbringer smash through the Roman themed title track with its stop start chorus which itches at you to announce that Kevill possibly has the best voice in modern thrash metal before moving onto the neck breaking and foot stomping riff of Remain Violent. Remain Violent is an excellent social commentary on the growing of riots occurring the world over recent with the emphasis on the police brutality that seems to be at the forefront of every riot, that would prick the ears of any Cavalera era Sepultura fan. The twin guitar assault of Carroll and Chase Becker work fantastically together driving memories of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman in Slayer’s prime as they trade off guitar solos with each one having their own distinct tone and style.

Something happens halfway through Woe to the Vanquished which in all honesty, makes the album. Woe to the Vanquished takes a more progressive route with the albums closing track, the absolutely phenomenal epic, When the Guns Fell Silent is possibly one of the best songs written about World War One. Clocking in at just under 12 minutes, When the Guns Fell Silent tells the story of the Battle of Verdun; debatably the bloodiest battle in human history and Warbringer not only manage to conjure up the sombre feeling of the battle, but also do it justice without glorifying the battle. When the Guns Fell Silent is a movement in 3 parts, even dropping silent before blasting back for the final section proving that if you’re going to end an album, that is how you do it.

Woe to the Vanquished is one of the best thrash metal albums released this year and possibly one of the best you will have heard in recent years. It is fast and brutal but also has that factor of something else that is thoroughly enjoyable. With bands like Warbringer and Havok, the future of thrash metal is in safe hands. 9/10

Adam McCann / MHF Magazine

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