Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
I have to be brutally honest, I'm not the world's biggest thrash metal fan. There was a time from ages 8-14 where I was absolutely obsessed with thrash--I refused to listen to anything else, and I eventually burned myself out. That's not to say that I don't enjoy thrash and still look for new bands, but there are other genres I tend to listen to more.
And that leads us to Warbringer. They are the exception. Warbringer is easily my favorite "new" thrash band, and I'd go as far as to say that they are the best modern thrash band around. Their last album Woe to the Vanquished was a career highlight and saw the band even sharper than ever with a razorblade to the throat of their thrash metal roots, but all the while expanding upon their extreme metal and progressive influences. And here we are with Weapons of Tomorrow. Do the band continue on their trajectory of their roots-conscious but expansive and extreme thrash metal attack? Let's dive in.
The album kicks off on an absolutely amazing start with "Firepower Kills." The intro and buildup is fantastic--right before the main riff kicks, in vocalist John Kevill sounds off like an alarm with a powerful scream of "FIREPOWER KILLS!" and then all hell breaks loose. A barrage of frantic and technical thrash riffs fire at you with no sign of letting up. Absolutely relentless throughout the 4 minutes of this scorcher. The perfect way to start this album. "The Black Hand Reaches Out" and "Crushed Beneath the Tracks" continue on the thrash attack but with more variety. These songs sound nothing alike. The former of which is a melodic, groovy, and catchy thrash number with an absolutely infectious main riff. The later of which, while mostly groovy, is battering throughout. This is where the death metal influences start to kick in, albeit still within the thrash realms.
"Defiance of Fate" is where the album begins it's turn into the more expansive and progressive direction. This is probably the most uniquely different song Warbringer has made to date. It is a dramatic, dynamic, and (dare I say) ballad-like tune. This is also where the album begins to show it's black metal side, but this is only just the beginning of those elements being introduced. Flipping between melancholic clean guitars and heavy mid-paced riffs. A major highlight of the album. "Unraveling" comes out swinging and is RELENTLESS. This song is probably the most brutal and death metal song on the album, and possibly even in their entire discography. "Defiance of Fate" bashes you from the first second, and doesn't let up until it finishes and you are left destroyed.
"Heart of Darkness" kicks off the second half of the album with a gorgeous intro of acoustic guitars and a stellar bass-line courtesy of new bassist Chase Bryant. The black metal influence is amped up exponentially on this song. Tremolo picked riffs are a main facet of this track, and are used as a means to add atmosphere without loosing the attack of the previous songs. "Power Unsurpassed" and "Outer Reaches" return to the thrash attack that we are used to. The former is another mid-paced slammer, albeit more brutal and with a stomping groove. I'm a sucker for one-liners and I just can't help but yell along to a line like "SECOND TO NONE!" It's so catchy. The latter, "Outer Reaches," is another highlight of the bruisers. The main riff is fucking devastating. I love the frantic nature of it. This is the definition of razor-sharp and cutthroat. And if you thought that was the only 10/10 riff on this song, then you thought wrong. At the 2:48 mark you are bitchslapped by the best mosh riff I've heard in years. It's down-right filthy and it makes me want to run for the pit and completely loose my shit.
"Notre Dame (King of Fools)" and "Glorious End" the album on a strong note. Both of these song, to me, are almost an amalgamation of the 2 sides present on the album. They're melodic, but also ramp up the intensity. "Notre Dame" has another really killer black metal riff but played with such a groove that it still feels very much thrash. I'm loving the dynamics as the intro of the song is repeated towards the end of the song to great effect. This is a great song but it doesn't prepare you for what is gonna happen next. "Glorious End" is a work of art. It's a masterpiece. THIS is the way you close an album. Grand, melodic, heartwrenching, but also still very much a thrash tune. While the guitars are a main facet of this tune, it's worth pointing out John Kevill's vocal performance. He still retains his savage scream but I loved the inclusion of the narrative voice, it really adds so much depth, character, and texture. The ending section of this song is so masterfully done. You can really feel the emotion and defeated nature of the character in this song as he screams out the words "Tell me father have you lied? This is no way for a soldier to die! Was there a meaning when I fell? Where is the glory? Where is the glory for me?". I literally get chills every time I hear the ending to this song, it's so epic. A truly magnificent way to close out this album.
It should go without saying but this album is absolutely amazing. Warbringer continues to prove why they are the kings of modern thrash metal. They are bold, dynamic, diverse, technical, all-the-while still keeping their extreme thrash metal roots intact. This is their crowning achievement as a band. This may be a bold statement but in 10 years from now this will be looked upon as a legendary album in thrash metal altogether. This is Warbringer's "Reign in Blood," but maintains their own identity. This is the album that thrash bands will need to try to outdo, and it will be a really tough job to do.
Weapons of Tomorrow is a masterpiece in the truest sense. Beyond highly recommended, this is essential listening. If you are a fan of thrash metal, you will eat this up, but if you aren't a fan of thrash metal but are still a fan of metal I'd still highly recommend this. Congratulations Warbringer, you guys are the true leaders of modern thrash metal.
Warbringer - Weapons of Tomorrow was released April 24th, 2020 from Napalm Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!