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Warbringer: Waking Into Nightmares (Century Media) 

Ventura, Calif.'s Warbringer pulls the trigger on its second album for Century Media, nailing another pure thrash-metal bull's-eye that evokes the classic '80s sound pioneered by bands like Metallica.

Waking Into Nightmares rarely strays from the blueprint drawn up for Warbringer's vengeful 2008 debut, War Without End—unless you count a more polished production job courtesy of Exodus axman Gary Holt and the installation of jazz-trained drummer Nic Ritter behind the kit. Despite the upgrades, guitarists John Laux and Adam Carroll remain content with one face-scalping riff after another, as with "Scorched Earth" and "Prey for Death"; they refrain from shoehorning odd time signatures into the band's blunt, apocalyptic style for musicality's sake. Only the atmospheric arpeggios of instrumental track "Nightmare Anatomy" suggest Warbringer is capable of more than inducing teenage whiplash.

Whatever your age, you need to don a neck brace—or at least pull the car over—before blasting "Senseless Life," the band's signature anthem, where shrieker John Kevill pitilessly notes: "If you can't think for yourself, then you're already dead."

Curiously, Kevill's lyrics eschew the subject of war throughout Nightmares. For this reason alone, the language feels significantly less inspired this time around. Why scream about serial killers when real murderers pose as leaders of the free world? There's always the third album.

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