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Warbringer - "Worlds Torn Asunder" (CD)

Warbringer - "Worlds Torn Asunder" CD cover image

"Worlds Torn Asunder" track listing:

1. Living Weapon
2. Shattered Like Glass
3. Wake Up... Destroy!
4. Future Ages Gone
5. Savagery
6. Treacherous Tongue
7. Echoes From The Void
8. Enemies Of The State
9. Behind The Veils Of Night
10. Demonic Ecstasy

Reviewed by on October 3, 2011

"'The problem isn't that Warbringer fails with their revised approach, but that they nearly - but don't quite - succeed.'"

It’s been an interesting few years for Warbringer, to say the least. Their 2008 debut “War Without End” introduced this young L.A. wrecking crew as a cute retro-thrash novelty, only to threaten them with oblivion once America’s then-burgeoning thrash revival approached saturation point. Wisely, they chose to distinguish themselves with their 2009 follow-up “Waking Into Nightmares,” whose further incorporation of groove and death influences kept the band’s songwriting tight and brand memorable. So it would seem that their third album, “Worlds Torn Asunder” (calling Bert and his “National Association of W Lovers”) is poised to place Warbringer yet another step ahead of their peers.

To this end, the album certainly succeeds. We hear Warbringer utilizing some heretofore unexplored sounds while retaining their classic thrash identity, which sure beats enduring the same Exodus song on endless repeat (sorry, Bonded By Blood). Strains of comparatively laid-back thrash ‘n’ roll, neoclassical shred, and progressive metal in the vein of late ‘90s Opeth all make appearances here, and prove welcome additions to a sound previously characterized by full-speed, unrelenting madness – which, of course, is still very much present. Steve Evetts’ production job nicely balances Gary Holt’s razor-sharp precision on “Waking” and Bill Metoyer’s ragged rawness on “War,” minus that production’s obvious late ‘80s gimmickry. While derivative, this is nonetheless a different beast.

But is “Worlds Torn Asunder” a great album? To this end, the problem isn’t that Warbringer fails with their revised approach, but that they nearly – but don’t quite – succeed. Early tracks such as “Living Weapon,” “Shattered Like Glass,” and “Wake Up… Destroy!” give us the trademark aggression and brutality we’ve come to expect, but provoke a restless “will they or won’t they?” in the minds of listeners who’ve placed stock in Warbringer’s potential evolution. When those moments of evolution finally begin appearing, it’s with a scattered, lopsided lack of proportion that disrupts the integrity of the songwriting and the general flow of the album.

“Savagery” kicks off with a clear slow-paced nod to Slayer’s “Seasons In The Abyss,” before veering into a furious “War Ensemble” tribute, with a touch of Machine Head’s “Davidian” for good measure. The constant gear shifting entertains over the course of the five-minute track, but only at the expense of musical ideas that are left truncated and underdeveloped. “Treacherous Tongue,” which begins as a standard Warbringer ripper, segues into an emotional melodic solo that constitutes almost half the song’s running time – and may have hit harder in a song better structured to suit its intended effect. The use of acoustics makes the progressive “Echoes Of The Void” and instrumental “Behind The Veils Of Night” fascinating to hear, but they arrive only after a major portion of the disjointed track list is behind us, dampening our interest.

All of this nitpicking will be of little use to those who just want to bang their heads, and “Worlds Torn Asunder” excels in that department. It also provides glimpses into the band’s potential to truly come into its own and defy critics of the neo-thrash movement. But the simple, glaring problem is that those glimpses feel like surgically implanted afterthoughts, rather than the organic fruits of solid songwriting. Thus, many of these tracks suffer from structural weakness, marring this otherwise hard-hitting album as a whole.

Highs: The band admirably attempts to broaden their sound, resulting in some refreshing musical ideas alongside a barrage of searing thrash.

Lows: Said ideas are often poorly developed and awkwardly executed, and make some songs feel like half-blended smoothies.

Bottom line: A scorching, but not quite successful, attempt to evolve from the band's humble retro-thrash origins - though certainly worthy of your attention.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)