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Woe To The Vanquished

Napalm (2017)
Rating: 9/10

In 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) moved the hands on the Doomsday Clock forward, bringing the world closer to global annihilation. The time is now three minutes to midnight. The clock has been adjusted 18 times since its inception in 1947. The last time this occurred was 1984 when tensions mounted between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Midnight represents all-out war, the end of mankind as we know it. Adjust the clock again. Warbringer has unleashed Woe To The Vanquished. Ashes to ashes…

I don’t think it’s fair to lob this record into the generic “thrash” category. There’s a lot going on here, a lot of moving parts lyrically and thematically. Woe To The Vanquished is a living snapshot of how violent this world is, that we live in. It’s a critical look at how we fight wars socially and domestically, both here in the States as well as overseas, as we move closer to the brink of war with North Korea and continue the fighting and bloodshed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The name of this Los Angeles, California-based band says it all, “Warbringer”, quite the humanistic commentary on the aggressive nature of mankind itself. Starting and bringing war is nothing new to us, dating back millenniums, as if it’s tattooed in our DNA, our second nature to kill, not for the hunt but for sport and dominance, to the victor go the spoils of power, control and influence. That’s the statement all eight songs on Woe To The Vanquished – the band’s fifth studio album – makes. It is this concept that Warbringer wants you to understand and know.

Sure, it’s great music, no doubt. The guitar riffs shred and the vocals destroy, everything comes together, on point. The entire band is tighter and faster than ever, but what gets your attention is the rage and frustration that vocalist John Kevill spits out with every lyric he sings. It feels like his bullshit meter has been pegged and it’s taking every ounce of restraint to stay in check and not go ballistic.

The songs are the true stars of Woe To The Vanquished, not a bum track in the bunch. My only complaint is that seven out of eight songs deal with the horrors of war and only one, track three, ‘Remain Violent’, doesn’t. It deals with police brutality, which for the longest time here in the States has been a different kind of war we’ve dealt with involving both race and class. Although it’s a killer song in and of itself, it does remind me a lot of ‘I Am The Law’ by Anthrax from their 1987 record Among The Living. Again, personal opinion. But if that’s the only criticism of this record, screw it, right?

You’re looking at the future superstars of metal right here. Warbringer. Woe To The Vanquished is their Ride The Lightning (Metallica, 1984). Big things have to be looming for this band and I can’t wait to hear what their next record will sound like. We all know what happened when Metallica released Master Of Puppets in 1986. I’m hoping the same thing happens for Warbringer. It’s high time to usurp that throne boys, and take what’s rightfully yours. You’ve earned it.

Theron Moore

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