As indicated by the more intriguing cover art and the absence of a “W” title, Warbringer’s fourth album is a stylistic game changer. Guitarist Jeff Pots and bassist Ben Mottsman have been recruited from Mantic Ritual and the band is finally acting on the experimental side that has been bubbling since Waking Into Nightmares. Fortunately, this album’s mix of the familiar and unfamiliar keeps it from being a stylistic train wreck.
While Empires Collapse is a thrash metal album to the core, it seems to combine the genre with several others throughout. “Horizon” and “Towers Of The Serpent” show off extreme metal riffing, “The Turning Of The Gears” has a pounding rhythm reminiscent of classic Ministry, “One Dimension” and “Iron City” have some punk influence, and things go to a doomy pace on “Leviathan.” The variety does run the risk of inconsistency but the album stays cohesive and is their most song-oriented release to date.
It also helps that the band dynamic hasn’t changed a bit. Even with the member swaps, the guitars have a solid crunch and the bass heavy approach from Worlds Torn Asunder has been retained. There’s also vocalist John Kevill’s performance to consider; say what you will but it just wouldn’t be a Warbringer album without his Mille Petrozza style shrieking.
But with the changes on here comes the hunch that they could’ve gone into an even more grandiose direction with this effort. The songs on here are all well written but there’s nothing that quite matches the epic scope that was predicted on tracks like “Demonic Ecstasy” and “Shadow From The Tomb.” It also would’ve been cool to see another one of their instrumentals at work but the closing acoustics on “Horizon” do capture a similar feeling.
Overall, Warbringer’s fourth album is a small step from their first three but the variety results in what may be their most accessible release. Some may dispute the changes but they do keep the album from sounding stagnant and don’t affect the band’s presentation all that much at the end of the day. Other bands like Megadeth and Testament made better albums under similar circumstances but Warbringer may have had one of the smoothest transitions.
“The Turning Of The Gears”
“Towers Of The Serpent”