War Without End

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In case you hadn't heard the news yet, thrash is back! Yes, almost exactly 25 years after the genre's widely acknowledged "first shot" via Metallica's watershed Kill 'Em All album, in 1983 (it may not have been the only nor, technically, the first thrash record, but it was certainly the one that mattered!), thrash metal is finally making a significant comeback in its original, largely authentic form. Problem is, as of this writing, most of these young upstarts are merely managing to imitate original thrashers such as Slayer, Exodus, Death Angel, and, of course, Metallica, rather than using the sounds they pioneered to generate new potential classics all their own. That's where Los Angeles' own Warbringer bring hope into the picture, foisting a very impressive debut in 2008's Bill Metoyer-produced War Without End, that arguably comes closer than any other neo-thrash release to date to synthesizing numerous first-wave influences into a consistently exciting and fresh-sounding batch of songs. Check out quite stunning, high-speed moshers like "Total War," "Hell on Earth," and "Shoot to Kill," with their saber-toothed riffs, expertly sculpted solo attacks, and surprisingly memorable choruses (not to mention butt-loads of attitude), for proof. To be fair to the competition, Warbringer do borrow from Exodus quite a bit for fast-and-furious numbers like "Dread Command" and "Instruments of Torture," and another highlight, "At the Crack of Doom," clearly couldn't exist without Slayer's influence, but the song is so spectacularly crushing on its own merits, that it's easy to overlook this. And even though negligible traces of death metal, like occasionally slower tempos and sporadic growls from vocalist John Kevill (normally, he's a classic thrash-styled screamer) can be found in tracks like "Systematic Genocide" and "Beneath the Waves," Warbringer generally stick to pure old-school thrashing all the way through. The album's second half doesn't quite match the first, either, but we're talking peanuts compared to most of Warbringer's wildly inconsistent peers, so party on, Garth. Despite the scary title, War Without End is a heck of a way to celebrate thrash metal's silver anniversary -- "bang that head that doesn't bang!"

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