Album Review: Warbringer - "Worlds Torn Asunder"

There’s a fair chance that much of this review will seem like a paraphrased version of our journey through Warbringer’s “Waking Into Nightmares” in 2009. That’s probably fairly accurate, but it stems from the fact that refreshingly little has changed about Warbringer.

If you procured several young children and made sure that they were exposed to no music except for Overkill, Exodus, Nuclear Assault and first-generation Anthrax, then compelled those children to make music of their own, Warbringer is the likely result. The band’s new release “Worlds Torn Asunder” is another throwback to the days of frayed denim vests, stringy, long headbanger locks and teenage fear of the Cold War and nuclear annihilation. It’s almost as though the album were sealed in amber thirty years ago and then discovered, brought to temperature and used to create dinosaurs anew! Okay, we’re mixing plots there, but Warbringer’s ties to the early days of raw thrash are undeniable.

It is especially poignant (and likely coincidental,) that “Worlds Torn Asunder” should arrive on the heels of the most historic metal shows in history; those of the Big 4 in Indio, California and New York City. This album is a pure, unadulterated showcase of what thrash might have been if isolated in a time capsule.

The departure of talented drummer Nic Ritter from Warbringer left a hole that some pundits were not sure the band could recover from. New percussive engine Carlos Cruz safely matches Ritter for speed, cadence and adaptability, even if his playing might be more brute force than artistry. Just listening to his measured fury and fill rolls in “Enemies of the State” should be enough to make a believer out of skeptics. The man can play.

For all the banging and screaming and noise, Warbringer’s greatest asset throughout their career remains their greatest ability now. Guitarists John Laux and Adam Carroll constantly display an ability to spin catchy headbanging riffs that hook the listener and stay embedded in his or her brain for days to come. Whether it’s kickstarter “Living Weapon,” or a metered romp like “Wake Up…Destory!” Laux and Carroll use empty space and stuttering riffs to emphasize their emphatic breakdowns.

“Worlds Torn Asunder” is a blistering forty minute drag race that’s extremely low on both fat and pretension. There is little to throw away and less to cut out; each measure is presented with the same level of ferocity as the next and the previous. From a musical standpoint, the true addition on this album is an increase in the amount of well-placed harmonious solos. All these elements combined make for one of the album’s best tracks, the two and a half minute thrash fest “Treacherous Tongue.”

Part of what makes “Worlds Torn Asunder” such a wonderful homage to thrash’s heyday is the subject matter. Seldom involved with complex lyrics or entangled metaphor, John Kevill spins tales of coercion, subversion, gross bodily harm and deadly warfare in plain but descriptive terms. Those themes are so consistent with the best days of thrash that it makes you want to check the calendar to make sure its still 2011.

If there is a downside on “Worlds Torn Asunder,” it may be that the album’s production is very thin. It should be mentioned that thrash historically uses thin production to embellish the crunch of the guitar, but this album takes that almost to a fault. It could have been more robust.

That however, is a small knock on an album that overall is not only a fun ride that may bring a smile to the corner of thrash fans’ lips, but is the next chapter in Warbringer’s effort to ascend American metal’s throne of steel. Perfect for those days when you want an easy but messy metal listen, “Worlds Torn Asunder” is a thrasher’s dream and is not to be missed.

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