Waking Into Nightmares
posted on 5/2009 By:
It’s only been a year since Warbringer were earning accolades for War Without End and already these young thrashlings have knocked out the follow-up. With their debut, the band were lauded for being one of, if not the best of the current crop of Bay Area-worshipping acts bringing old school thrash kicking and screaming into the noughties. Waking Into Nightmares announces itself in a big way even before you’ve hit play. That killer Dan Seagrave cover art promises a distinct improvement - visually at least - over War Without End, and thankfully the music inside delivers on that promise. Bolstered by a crystal clear yet brutal sound courtesy of none other than Mr. Gary Holt, Waking Into Nightmares sees Warbringer improving on their already fearsome Slayer-versus-Exodus styling with a pleasing attention to detail and songwriting growth. I really can’t see this going down as anything other than an absolute storm with genre fans.
For all their obvious thrashiness, the thing that gives Warbringer that extra edge and kick is the presence of early death metal in their sound. The blastbeating on “Living In a Whirlwind” might be the most obvious nod to classic DM yet more subtle examples can be found throughout Waking Into Nightmares. John Kevill’s deep, Obituary-like vocals are nicely pulled off again, though it’s a shame they only appear on the one track, the lurching “Shadow from the Tomb”. Pick of the bunch would have to be “Scorched Earth” though, featuring as it does ferocious speed and energy, spot-on soloing, mosh-worthy grooves and a catchy refrain - easily one of Warbringer’s most accomplished songs to date. In fact the band have done their best to make every number here varied and interesting within the confines of eighties thrash, and are evidently aware of the need to break things up in order to prevent monotony from setting in. Cue the smart, elegant instrumental “Nightmare Anatomy” which brings a welcome change of mood while still peaking with a relatively heavy mid-section.
It would be far too easy to point out the derivative nature of bands like Warbringer as a thing to criticize, and the fact is Waking Into Nightmares satisfies all the criteria for a top metal album regardless of where its ideas originate from. In terms of production, performances, songwriting and presentation this is a significant step up from previous material. If Warbringer continue making music this fast, heavy and fun, then they can rip off their heroes as much as they please. And let’s face it; how many of the surviving thrash greats could still deliver an album as good as this?
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