Confession is good for the soul, apparently. OK, here we go: I was going to write this review of Warbringer‘s latest album with a metaphoric sneer; I was going to write this review with lots of oh-so-clever remarks about the enduring delights of the thrash metal revival; I was going to write this review with a journalist’s air of smugness about how much fun it all is and the internet troll’s pithy turn of phrase about having a laugh. I had a change of heart though. Why? Well, for a start it makes me sound like a pillock and, frankly, you want to know what THEY sound like and not what I sound like, don’t you? Yeah, thought so. More though, “Empires Collapse” is no throwaway: it is genuinely worthy of your time and attention.
“Empires Collapse” is the fourth record by the US based thrash metal outfit and, to these ears, it’s probably the most accomplished and agreeable that they have produced. It is still an album resolutely in love with mid 1980s thrash metal and it is fairly obvious that Warbringer have every single record that Slayer or Kreator or Exodus ever produced but “Empires Collapse” is more than the aural equivalent of fan fiction. The band have successfully blended together a set of songs that are as thrillingly invigorating as they are technically proficient. It is, kids, a bit of a winner, all things being told.
If you have taken any sort of interest in Warbringer‘s career to date, you could be forgiven for dismissing them as mere copyists (I include myself in this); whilst I bow to no one in my admiration for neo-thrash, I had unfairly seen Warbringer as a bit lightweight and derivative. I was wrong. On this occasion, I’m very glad to be so. “Empires Collapse” is little short of terrific. Whether its the menacing and brooding ‘Leviathan,’ the early period Nuclear Assault sounding ‘Off With Their Heads’ or the Slayer infused ‘Towers of the Serpent’ there is a pile of raw meat to get your teeth stuck into and more riffs than and air guitar competition. Did I mention the mid period Metallica echoes on ‘Horizon’ as well? Yes, another decent box to tick. You will be pleased to hear that all the leitmotifs of proper thrash are adroitly in place too- lyrics about social breakdown, political upheaval and the end of days? Check that.
However, I did say though that this was no mere copyist record. It isn’t: whilst much of this sounds like a lot of thrash bands you know, the main reflection I have at the end of this is that this sounds undeniably like a Warbringer record. They have done their time, earned their stripes and turned in a record that should, if there is any justice at all, win them a pile of new fans. As we say in Wales: tidy. A sparkling, empire crushing and eminently well deserved 7.5/10.