A little over a year has passed since the release of Warbringer's debut album, War Without End, an album which was solid, but didn't really have any lasting value. Imagine opening a time capsule and finding an unreleased Sepultura album from 1987, that was basically what War Without End was. Not saying it's a bad thing, but I felt the band was trying too hard to refurbish the sound of older thrash bands instead of creating one of their own. However, things have changed greatly with the release of their new album, Walking Into Nightmares, which shows Warbringer taking their retro-thrash sound to a whole new level.
How is this an improvement? For starters, the production is miles above what it was on their debut album as the band's sound is a lot heavier and more ferocious than their debut. Having Exodus guitarist Gary Holt produce their album helped with this a lot, as the guitars sound a lot more crushing than before, they still maintain a somewhat raw sound but it's much more robust than it was on War Without End. This is very noticeable with the solos from guitarists Adam Carroll and John Laux as their playing is the main standout on this album. John Kevill's vocal delivery has also changed for the better as he uses a harsher-styled scream rather than his old standard thrash vocal delivery. His new singing style is also aided by the improved production with his voice sounding somewhat reminiscent of deceased Death vocalist Chuck Schuldiner. Drummer Nic Ritter also does his job quite well as he showcases his ability to play at a very quick pace and remain consistent.
The technical skill of the musicians in the band are another thing that's really improved on this album. The riffs are more than just the standard thrash chugging that most are used to. They actually are a bit more complex and diverse. The solos are also a lot more faster than technical as Carroll and Laux's playing is taken to a whole new level. Warbringer's overall sound has become more than thrash, in general as they explore the styles of death metal with some of the riffs and they dabble into progressive territory in a few areas. The most obvious being "Nightmare Anatomy" which is a four-minute instrumental track which almost sounds like it belongs on a Pelican record. It shows a more creative side of the band that they haven't explored yet, and is one of their best tracks yet. With that said, there are still plenty of straight-up thrashers on Walking Into Nightmares, too. Songs like "Jackal," "Prey For Death," and "Scorched Earth" will leave you headbanging for hours. Pretty much exactly like War Without End, only enhanced about ten times as much. The only thing missing from this album is a real huge standout like "Total War" from their debut album. That track was destined to be a future classic for thrash metal, and I don't really see that with any of the songs on here, sadly. Walking Into Nightmares is much more consistent as a whole album.
Walking Into Nightmares is an excellent follow up album and shows a lot of depth in Warbringer's music. It shows that the band can reach out into new territory while not only maintaining their core sound, but making it so much better. Warbringer now have a new sense of identity and have greatly moved away from generic territory and possibly becoming a mainstay in the New Wave of Thrash Metal. It's heavy, it's rockin', it's technical and complex, which may appeal to a whole mass of new fans. However, if none of this really matters to you and you're just looking for a record to rock out to for forty minutes, then this record is perfect for you as well!
8.3 / 10
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