In a calculated effort to keep themselves from getting stale, Century Media’s very own thrash metal babies churn out a sophomore album less than a year removed from 2008’s “War Without End.” In fact, every minute of “Waking Into Nightmares” sounds as if it were recorded in a single take, though the awe-inspiring cover art certainly needed a fair amount of brain cells to conceptualize. For a taste of the aural vinegar these thrashers peddle, try the guitar-driven decibels on the opening salvo that’s “Jackal.” At first drums crackle, then the riffs barge in to the accompaniment of John Kevill’s venomous yells. His vocals stay pretty much the same throughout “Waking…” as if he were in a hurry on its whole 40 odd minutes.
This is not to say Warbringer’s latest is a half assed rush job through and through. It’s just FAST, at times impossibly so. Try the rollicking gait of “Severed Reality” or the energized mayhem that animates “Living In A Whirlwind.” Then there are the solos between guitar wankers John Laux and Adam Caroll. These guys dump the Megadeth finesse and cheesy harmonies, preferring volcanic fretboard action that more often than not gets lost in the swirling melodies of the songs surrounding them. Percussionist Nick Ritter doesn’t allow himself to be left behind by these two; after all, it’s his relentless work behind the kit that paces the edge-of –your-seat offerings on the album. But for a glimpse of the band’s future potential besides numbing chunks of thrash, the soothing “Nightmare Anatomy” is a rare venture into mood and ambience. It’s an instrumental where eerie guitar notes gently shift to humming grandeur, proving that when Warbringer flirt with the epic, there’s effortless chemistry.
Aside from this three-minute experiment there’s little variation among the songs on the album. Though observant ears would catch occasional nods to black and death metal, Warbringer closely follow the thrash blueprint laid down by Slayer, Exodus, and Kreator. On “Prey For Death,” “Shadow From The Tomb,” “Senseless Life,” and “Forgotten Dead” the band serve extra helpings of harshness flavored by genre godfather Gary Holt’s medium-rare production job. This is a hideous slab of grim thrash metal that tears everything decent and wholesome to shreds, “Waking Into Nightmares” can very well be the year’s most uncompromising release.
PROS: Absolute thrash misanthropy for almost an hour.
CONS: Not every song is memorable and by album number two, Warbringer are already peddling a predictable formula.
BOTTOM LINE: If you wanna get punched in the face with a sonic fist of thrash, “Waking Into Nightmares” will own your playlist.
2. Living In A Whirlwind
3. Severed Reality
4. Scorched Earth
5. Abandoned By Time
6. Prey For Death
7. Nightmare Anatomy
8. Shadow From the Tomb
9. Senseless Life
10. Forgotten Dead
Century Media/ Running Time-40:14