TORCHBEARER
"Warnaments"

(Candlelight)

01. Dark Clouds Gathering
02. Last Line of Defence
03. Burial Waters, Deepsome Graves
04. Swift Turns of War
05. The Stale Drownings
06. Battlespawn
07. Where Night is Total
08. Sealer of Fates
09. The Blunted Weapon

RATING: 8/10

The leap that TORCHBEARER made from debut album "Yersinia Pestis" to "Warnaments" is similar to the one made by GRIMFIST from "Ghouls of Grandeur" to "10 Steps to Hell", that being a broadening of the sound without an offsetting sacrifice in aural savagery. In the case of TORCHBEARER, this super group of sorts, featuring members of SCAR SYMMETRY, SATARIEL, and ANGEL BLAKE (among others), went from an extremely pissed off album of blackened death/thrash metal to an extremely pissed off album of blackened death/thrash with more diverse song structures, smart use of keyboards (including symphonic elements), and standout melodies. Much like what GRIMFIST did on "10 Steps to Hell", on "Warnaments" TORCHBEARER ups the musical dynamic and still rips your face off.

With a conceptual theme largely dealing with the Battle of Jutland (World War I), "Warnaments" is one of those rare albums that locates the sweet spot between black and death metal and rides it for all its worth. It is obvious that the band put a great deal of thought into the arrangements this time around, as the riffs and guitar interplay are ripping and each individual track, save for symphonic interlude "The Stale Drownings", is both memorable and frighteningly aggressive. The grandness of the melodic guitar lead crossed with thunderous drumming that introduces album-opener "Dark Clouds Gathering" turn into dive bomb soloing and Swedish thrash/death fire, the melody injection that follows the first of many moments demonstrating the band's substantial style development. Even though up-tempo and crushing, "Last Line of Defence" follows with a vaguely epic feel that was missing on the excellent "Yesinia Pestis". Piano key strikes, a jumpy stop/start riff, and rumbling bass line kick off "Burial Waters, Deepsome Graves", the song's chorus arguably the album's most memorable. The killer guitar parts and rhythmic annihilation continue with the furious gallop and DIMMU-esque keys of "Swift Turns of War" and the thrashy "Battlespawn". "Where Night is Total", "Sealer of Fates", and "The Blunt Weapon" close out the album, battering the listener with chilling synth effects, creepy spoken bits, and a downpour of razorblade licks.

"Warnaments" is one vicious album and should serve as a blueprint for how to write a sophomore disc that shows musical progression without sacrificing sheer brutality. It is not an easy feat to accomplish, but TORCHBEARER makes it sound easy here. This is an impressive second effort.

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