Waking into Nightmares

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Warbringer are one of the most promising of the new wave of thrash bands, and on their second album, they're clearly hardened by time spent on the road, ready to crush the listener with a fresh set of high-speed riffs and machine-gun drum fills. This band plays in the old-school thrash style of Exodus and Testament, with none of the progressive intricacy that Metallica brought to the form on ...And Justice for All. Though there's definitely a Kirk Hammett influence in the guitar solos here, it's obviously derived from earlier records like Ride the Lightning and Kill 'Em All. Still, it's reductive to talk about Warbringer strictly in terms of how faithful they are to the classic style. Drummer Nic Ritter throws in extremely effective double-bass fills on "Living in a Whirlwind," as bassist Ben Bennett yanks furiously at the strings, and vocalist John Kevill is one of the best new frontmen, always keeping his (surprisingly strong) lyrics clearly comprehensible. They've expanded their range of subject matter since the last album, moving into horror themes while still occasionally dealing with the war-related subject matter of 2007's War Without End. While remaining true to their classicist thrash roots, Warbringer have managed to evolve slightly on their second album, and that kind of incremental development can be the foundation of a long and respectable career.

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