Warbeast MMVIIII
Stronghold

Bands like to create albums that feel like a cohesive experience with a beginning, middle, and end, sort of like a good story, whether or not they’re telling one. And as such you’ll find a ridiculous number of albums with intro tracks that are sometimes really cool but are generally disposable.

Warbeast MMVIII (since renamed again to Warbeast Remains) go one further than that to the level of insipid. Listening to the minute and a half of nu-metal bounce that is the exasperating first track is enough to not even bother giving the rest of the album a shot.

Okay, so now that we’re past that, how does the rest fare? To be honest it’s pretty inconsistent, though there are really promising moments. “Beyond Redemption” and closer “Fleshless” are quality death metal songs, while there are a number of fun, thrashy numbers. But unfortunately the pandering instinct to write nu-metal riffs wasn’t confined to the intro track. “The Blackness” and “Destroy All My Hate” are just ruined by them, despite the latter having some satisfyingly thrashy moments.

I guess the overall problem is that most of the riffing on the album is uncreative and rudimentary. I think I could overlook the bouncy crap if it actually felt like this band wrote it instead of snatching it right off of almost any mainstream release from 1999-2002. And this is true for a lot of the faster, more aggressive material as well, only less obviously. The writing just seems like stuff I’ve heard a thousand times, and it doesn’t have any particular quality that would make me say, “Oh, that’s a Warbeast riff!”

So what works? The vocals are actually pretty fantastic, a very forceful death approach with a fair amount of range and depth. They have a hollow, edge-of-breaking sound that hurts my throat to listen to. I love it. The solos are also enjoyable, being more melodic than technical and providing enough seasoning anytime things get bland.

I think the best thing going on though is the drums, which honestly provide better support than the riffs deserve. I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising since plenty of bands who rely on terrible, stop-start riffs manage to seduce great drummers. One of the mysteries of life, I guess.

In the end I guess what Stronghold does most effectively is demonstrate that good musicians don’t mean much when the songwriting is lackluster. And this isn’t to say originality is everything; some bands I love like Bloodbath and Darkthrone openly admit how much they rip off their influences. It’s just that Warbeast don’t succeed in making it their own, not even for a minute.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Andrew Young
April 26th, 2012

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