Courtesy: Napalm Records
Thrash metal outfit Warbringer is an interesting act. The band has only been in existence for sixteen years. Yet in that span, the band has toured the globe with some of the metal community’s biggest names (E.g. Overkill, Soilwork, Exodus), and released six albums, all while going through label and numerous lineup changes. Most bands can only dream to have done as much as Warbringer in that span of time, what with the average number of albums and associated tours run over that time being three. Even having done so much in such a short time, the band has not lost its fire. That is clear in the band’s latest album (it’s sixth), Weapons of Tomorrow. The 10-song record is a presentation that is everything that audiences have come to expect from Warbringer, both musically and lyrically. The guitar riffs, vocals, bass work and time keeping come together to make this record just as worthy of applause as any of Warbringer’s past records. That is evidenced in part early in the record’s 50-minute run in the form of ‘Defiance of Fate.’ This song will be addressed shortly. ‘Heart of Darkness,’ which comes just past the record’s midpoint, serves as another example of the album’s strength. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Glorious End,’ the album’s finale, is one more way in which this album shows its impact. It is hardly the last of the album’s most notable entries. ‘Outer Reaches,’ which focuses on the journey into space, ‘Notre Dame (King of Fools),’ which seems to tell the story of Quasi Modo, and ‘Firepower Kills,’ which really comes across as an indictment of the buildup of the military complex, are also important additions to the album. When they are considered with the songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album proves itself to be a powerful new offering from Warbringer that the band’s fans will appreciate just as much as metal fans in general.
Twelve years ago, thrash metal outfit Warbringer first came onto the metal scene with its debut album War Without End. In the decade-plus since that album’s release, the band has continued to impress audiences with each following album. The band’s latest album, Weapons of Tomorrow – the band’s sixth album and eighth overall recording, counting its two EPs – is no exception to that rule. That is proven through the album’s lyrical and musical content, as is evidenced early on in the album’s fourth track, ‘Defiance of Faith.’ The song’s musical arrangement lends itself to comparisons to Metallica’s timeless thrash anthen ‘Sanitarium’ what with its brooding, reserved approach in the work of guitarists Adam Carroll and Chase Becker. Drummer Carlos Cruz’s work behind the kit adds even more to that comparison with his controlled performance, as does bassist Chase Bryant. Given, front man John Kevill’s vocal delivery is more akin to something from perhaps Exodus or Overkill, but it still works in its own right, adding its own touch to the whole to make the arrangement its own strong performance. The subdued nature of the song’s arrangement is important to note because it serves to help illustrate and translate the story presented in the song’s lyrical content, which is about a man trying to decide which path to take in his life, so to speak.
The story of that subject’s decision is told over the course of its seven-minute-plus run time, with the subject first asking himself about his path. He says to himself in this verse, “So far away/the night descends o one more day/I call your name/But no reply/Nothing/How to go on/Why wear a smile upon my face/I try to rise in vain/But I can’t defy/I can’t defy my fate.” He continues his discussion with himself in the song’s second verse, with just as much emotion, “Can’t find a meaning/In a cold, uncaring world/I long for days/Days that once and never were/My hopes begin to fade/For I can’t defy/I can’t defy my fate.” Eventually the song’s figure reaches an epiphany, realizing his fate is in his own hands. This comes in the song’s third verse, as the subject states, “But will I lay down as my life passes by?/Or will I raise up my fist to the sky/I will not go silently into the dark/My flame will burn brighter than all of the stars/I will stand tall/I will not go silently/I will be known/My flame will burn bright/So bright/You will know my name/You will hear my voice/My life will have meaning/I have made my choice/Now I stand defiant/I stand in defiance of fate/For all of time/My will and my spirit remain.” What’s really interesting here is that as the song’s subject gains his emotional and mental footing, so does the energy increase in the song’s arrangement, helping to illustrate the determination and confidence that is rising in the song’s subject. Keeping all of this in mind, it is clear that a lot of thought was put into the song on both sides. Even more important to note here is that while this is just a story, it is a story to which listeners can relate, as it reminds listeners to not give up when they are in those situations in which they are feeling so much doubt. To that end, the song proves even more important to the whole of Weapons of Tomorrow. Whether making that connection was manifest from the band is anyone’s guess, but regardless, it is a connection that listeners can relate. Keeping that in mind, this song is clearly an important addition to the album, and just one of the record’s most notable works. ‘Heart of Darkness’ is another of the songs featured in Weapons of Tomorrow that makes the record worth hearing.
‘Heart of Darkness’ is notable because it stands out from the rest of the album’s songs just as much musically as it does lyrically. Where ‘Defiance of Fate’ boasted a very Metallica-esque influence in its arrangement, this song’s arrangement is more of a 21st-century work. It continues the band’s trend of experimenting with more black metal elements alongside its trademark thrash metal sound. The two elements are well-balanced here, making the whole a work that is unique within the confines of the album and when compared to works from Warbringer’s thrash counterparts. That combination makes this arrangement another work that audiences will appreciate just as much as the album’s other entries. It is just one part of what makes the song stand out. The foreboding sound presented through the song’s arrangement does well to help evoke the feeling in the song’s lyrical content.
The lyrical content featured in ‘Heart of Darkness’ seems to reference author Joseph Conrad’s timeless novella written by the same name. The novella took on the themes of imperialism and racism. At the same time, while the title of that publication is referenced here, the actual lyrical content seems to address more, the history of mankind on one another. It can just as easily be likened to the influence of the Spanish on certain other societies, Europeans on native cultures in America (and Africa) and even the British on peoples of other nations. In other words, it is a theme that connects to reality in so many avenues. To that end, the two topics ironically intertwine with one another seamlessly. The song states of that history in its lead verse, “Far into the unknown/They find this land/Yet unspoiled by time/Its people quite defenseless/Its riches ripe for the taking/They brought the torch/They brought the sword/To seek their fame/To seek reward/They venture into the jungles and mists/And blinded, they see/Only an infinite darkness.” The story continues in its second verse with what seems to reference the atrocities of slavery in America, stating, “The crack of whips/The clack of chains/To bring the light/But why such pain/To rule by force and domination/And then to speak of civilization/The ivory face/The eyes so cold/The lust for power/The glimmer of gold/There lies a sickness deep in the soul/One glance in the mirror/Reveals an infinite darkness.” In hindsight, the mention of “the lust for power/The glimmer of gold” might in fact make this a reference to the mistreatment of Native Americans by white Americans of European descent. Either way, the picture of that mistreatment by one group to another is clear and powerful. The song’s powerful story continues in its third verse, as Kevill “sings,” “Stained human soul/Which no one can disguise/What evil lurks in the recesses of the mind/Would you chain another/If you gained from their demise/To peer into this darkness means to face the horror/The horror within us all/Far/So far into the unknown/The hateful seeds that have been sown/The quest for wealth/That grim desire/The severed hands/The homes afire/Through the years, an unending stain/The crack of whips/The clack of chains/And even today, the echo remains/Witness the still-beating heart/Heart of darkness.” Again, what is being addressed here is imperialism and racism throughout history from one group’s oppression of another to another group’s oppression of others. It is a very unique way in which this familiar topic has been approached here. Together with the song’s musical arrangement, the topic is even more impacting. In turn, the song becomes another clear example of what makes Weapons of Tomorrow worth hearing. It is just one more of the album’s most notable entries. The record’s finale, ‘Glorious End’ is one more example of the album’s strength.
‘Glorious End’ stands out because while its musical arrangement does present more of the band’s familiar thrash sound – coupled with more black/death metal influence – the song’s lyrical content presents its own unique tale. The tale here is that of a young man growing up and going off to war in World War I. It is a story that will appeal widely to fans not only of Warbringer, but also to fans of Sabaton. At the same time, it is also an indictment of war and what it causes. The song’s subject states in the song’s lead verse, “I hear the call to arms/I shall answer at once/My brothers, now we march/Toward the sound of the guns/yes, men will die/But I will not be afraid/I remember the words that my father told me/My son, you must be brave/Your steel must be true/And upon that field of war, my son/You know what you must do.” The story continues with the song’s subject paying tribute to his father, stating, “My father, my father/Your sons will stand tall/We will return to home/In victory or not at all/For I am no coward/I will laugh at death again/No onward my brothers/To our glorious end/Oh, the banner stands so tall/What glory awaits us all.” The story continues even more over the course of the song’s nearly seven-minute run time, but does not have a happy ending. The young soldier eventually dies as a result of a chemical attack. He and his fellow soldiers were gassed. As the young man dies, he says, “My father, are you proud?/truly a glorious end/Into a silent tomb I fall/What glory awaits us all/Tell me father, have you lied?/this is no way for a soldier to die/Was there a meaning when I fell/Where is the glory/Where is the glory for me?” Again, this becomes an indictment of war and its effects. It is a not so veiled statement about those who blindly go off and serve out of their own inflated sense of patriotism and self aggrandizement. It is a powerful statement that, when considered along with the album’s opening statement about the buildup of the industrial military complex, adds even more impact from the album. Considered along with the rest of the songs noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, the record in whole proves itself to be a record that will appeal widely to Warbringer’s fans, those of the thrash realm and of the metal world in general. Simply put, it makes itself an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Warbringer’s latest full-length studio recording Weapons of Tomorrow is an engaging and enjoyable new offering from the young thrash metal veterans. That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content, as is evidenced through the songs examined here. When those songs are considered along with the rest of the album’s offerings, the album in whole becomes another positive offering from Warbringer that boasts plenty of its own musical and lyrical firepower. The album is available now through Napalm Records. More information on Weapons of Tomorrow is available along with all of Warbringer’s latest news at:
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