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Torchbearer are very big on concept albums. Their first release, Yersinia Pestis, took its name from the Latin term for the bacteria that caused the ultra-deadly Black Plague (also known as the Black Death) in Europe in the 14th century -- a pandemic so catastrophic that, according to historians, it claimed the lives of at least one-third of Europe's population during the outbreak between 1347 and 1351 (some estimates put the number at more like two-thirds). And Torchbearer's second album, Warnaments, was inspired by the sea battle of Jutland during World War I. From bubonic plague to WWI, this Swedish combo aren't exactly focusing on lighthearted subject matter -- and that is hardly unusual for a band that operates in the death metal/black metal realm. Warnaments is best described as a thrashy death metal/black metal mixture with elements of power metal at times. Torchbearer's extreme vocals (they avoid clean vocals) range from death metal's deep, guttural growl to black metal's sinister rasp, and blastbeats are quite prevalent. But for all its thrashiness, this 2005 recording also has its power metal-ish references; there are the occasional hints of melodic old-school headbangers such as Iron Maiden, Queensr├┐che, Manowar and Savatage. However, Warnaments doesn't take the melodic element as far as the bands that are considered melodic death metal and/or symphonic black metal; melody is part of the equation, but not as integral a part as it is on the best albums of At the Gates or In Flames on the melodic death metal side, or Bal-Sagoth, Twilight Ophera or Astarte on the symphonic black metal side. Ultimately, Warnaments is about vicious, head-crushing sensory assault. It's not a remarkable or mind-blowing album, but it does offer a generally decent, if slightly inconsistent, dose of mosh-pit bravado.

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