IV: Empires Collapse
Century Media
Street: 10.29
Warbringer = Kreator + South of Heaven–era Slayer
Re-jiggering the lineup to include Jeff Potts and Ben Mottsman (of Mantic Ritual) has seemingly infused Warbringer with a newfound experimentalism. Though Empires Collapse is certainly a capital “T” Thrash record, it also incorporate more doom, punk and even industrial influences than any previous record, as made evident on ominous pounders like “The Turning of the Gears” and “Leviathan.” For those hungry for the “classic” ‘bringer (an aggro take on teutonic thrash greats like Sodom and Kreator), fans will find it in spades on “Hunter-Seeker,” an album that morphs from standard thrash into some of the most grandiose guitar arrangements this side of Hammerfall. I have few complaints in terms of production (“tight as a drum, sir!”), and the leads are original and gripping like the Di’Anno-era Maiden fare, or even Mustaine-era Metallica (fight me!). I can see diehards being bummed on the clean riffing and some of the more melodic moments (like the extended end passage of “Scars Remain”), but it’s totally saved this band from becoming stagnant (“Dying Light” sounds like the grooving, post-millennial sonic cousin to Seasons in the Abyss), and left me totally ga-ga for more. –Dylan Chadwick