Century Media – 2009 – USA
Not wasting time on a yearlong gap between albums, the Warbringer lads bring their game to a new level with a sophomore effort begging for ‘classic’ status. In a nutshell, “Waking Into Nightmares” repackages the violent glory of classic thrash for 21st century consumption. Eschewing useless intros, the band goes for the throat on the rapid-fire “Jackal,” an opener that sandwiches its razor-sharp guitars between John Kevill’s vocals and Nick Ritter’s hammering drums. From here on in the overriding theme of the album is your usual war, destruction, and violence; it’s a staid formula that can only be delivered one way: brutally fast.
Aside from a few rare flourishes of well thought-out guitar work, Warbringer’s sound is firmly rooted in buzz-saw riffs and machinegun drums. The second track, “Living In A Whirlwind,” is no exception, being a thrash feast par excellence with thrash on the side, on top of it, underneath it, everywhere. From its brain-numbing riffs to the gang-style backing vocals, the song pays tribute to ye gods of olden times: Megadeth, Slayer, Death Angel, Kreator, Testament…and Exodus. Don’t forget Exodus, because producer Gary Holt is nice enough to these kids by allowing Steve “Zetro” Zousa a few guest vocals on “Shadows From The Grave.”
Despite the chaos the band unleash on every minute of running time, a few crucial ingredients make specific songs stand out. There’s the rollicking “Severed Reality” and its shift to swirling, Godzilla-sized riffs; the inventiveness that makes “Prey For Death” twist and turn until your teeth rattle; then the grim nihilism surrounding “Senseless Life” like vultures on a carcass. Yet the album still has an unexpected treat that happens when the numbing start of “Abandoned By Time” gives way to these grooving hooks weaving themselves around the verses.
Mostly a deafening blizzard of weapons-grade thrash, with this album, Warbringer have succeeded in making napalm for your ears. Amidst the band’s furious output, however, comes a rare contemplative instrumental—“Nightmare Anatomy”—that tingles the spine for a few odd minutes before Warbringer deliver the last quarter of face melting tunes. Overall, the drumming is insane, the twin guitars burn, and John Kevill effortlessly channels his inner Mille Petroza when he isn’t doing a worthy imitation of Tom Araya. Now metalheads take heed, for “Waking Into Nightmares” marks Warbringer’s ascendance into the pantheon of thrashlords. This shit doesn’t just rip, it fuckin’ shreds.