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Warbringer

When Black Sabbath infused rock with satanic majesty, the slow blues and dark pentatonic scales employed by guitarist Tony Iommi suggested the creeping doom of radioactive fallout. Technology has since sped up the process of military aggression and, in the '80s, the idea that Soviet warheads could strike the United States in a half-hour flat certainly impressed artists like Dave Mustaine, whose band, Megadeth, set the standard for classic thrash.

With a new Cold War heating up against Russia and a trigger-happy Republican in the White House, is it any surprise a quintet like Warbringer has suddenly arrived to remind us why thrash remains vital?

War Without End is a purist's blood-soaked dream. California's Warbringer will blow you away with acid-washed, jean-jacketed thrash metal minus progressive/punk influences. Songs like "Total War" and "Combat Shock" cut to the bone; six-stringers Adam Carroll and John Laux boast the ability to compress a gauntlet of flashy, ferocious riffs into compact structures; and drummer Ryan Bates is more killing machine than man. Vocalist John Kevill, meanwhile, keeps things to a lively yelp, eschewing the constipated death-metal roar. His lyrics are comic-book quality ("The earth plunged into night / It's time for you to fight"), but his obsession with atomic holocaust is consistent--well, except for quirky shark-attack anthem "Beneath the Waves." Submarine-maiming aside, War Without End is endlessly listenable and a very relevant release.

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