“WARBRINGER” Interview by Shibalika Tamuli
Welcome Thrash masters, greetings from MHF magazine! It’s an honour to have you with us. How have you been? How are things in your World to date?
Likewise, MHF! Things are great, and we are making preparations to unleash a sonic hail of shrapnel on everyone.
Break the ice with the ultimate thrash question (: and why? Metallica or Megadeth?
It’s pretty subjective as both have their distinctive strengths and eras. Are we talking Rust in Peace vs Load? Or Master of Puppets vs Cryptic Writings? Are we talking about throughout whole career average, or are we talking about golden era of each band vs each other? Can’t say. I enjoy a lot about both bands for different reasons and can’t really proclaim one better than the other.
I really like Slayer, too. Speed is an addiction.
Let’s start, what’s your favourite part of all the touring? and all the other good/bad lesser known things that happen on the road?
Favorite part is playing live music, the other parts can often be rough. Sheer amount of travel time and the getting worn down over several consecutive show/travel/show/travel days, as well as illness are the worst parts. The weirdest and stupidest things happen on tour. I nearly fell off a mountain on the side of the road once in the Italian Alps, we broke down and a random homeless person fixed our van on the spot in Houston, so many weird little things happen on tour.
What’s your favourite food? Favourite tour so far?
Too many. I love Mexican food very much, but also a good steak or burger. Sushi is high up there too. But also I like rice and noodle dishes and curries, a lot of Thai/indian cuisine. There’s so much awesome food out there and I want different things at different times.
Favorite tour- there’s been a few, but summer European festival run in 2012 I believe was my favorite.
Let’s get to Woe to the Vanquished. How is it gonna be different from your former releases?
We tried to raise the bar for ourselves in every category. An album strong start-to-finish of pure unrelenting metal that demolishes everything in sight, but also with a depth to the music, lyrics, and ideas and a sense of craftsmanship to elevate it above just another thrash record and make it our real statement about what we can add to the genre of thrash and heavy metal.
That’s our goal anyway, and we are pleased with the result. Now the people may judge!
Is there a theme/message in the album? Tell us about the song writing.
Reasons for not liking the term “Thrash metal revival band”? What’s your opinion about the current thrash metal scene?
Yes, it is about human suffering and tragedy through time. Many of the tracks (Silhouettes, Woe to the Vanquished, Remain Violent, Shellfire, Divinity of Flesh, and When the Guns Fell Silent) relate to this in one way or another.
The other two are both more works of imagination, and are self-contained concepts of their own lyrically.
We aren’t a thrash revival band, what’s there to revive? Riffs still rule and always will. The term thrash revival doesn’t give new bands a chance to show what they can do, it places them by default in the shadow of music from 30 years ago. We are a metal band, and our work stands on its own.
Tell us about the LA scene back then when you started and how it is compared to today?
A lot hasn’t changed! I remember it from the perspective of my youth, a lot of excited kids who all simultaneously seemed to have discovered the riff-filled glory of thrash metal. There were bands popping up left and right and each with a different set of influences and a take on how to thrash. The whole thing was really carried by youthful enthusiasm on everyone’s parts. Now I think it is all grown-up and there are some absolute top-notch records coming out.
What about the unreleased four song demo you recorded with Mikhaltsevich still in the band, are you guys still in contact with him? Tell us about Born of the Ruins.
Not really, this is ancient history now! That first demo is god awful as we couldn’t play yet and I couldn’t sing. I hope it doesn’t exist anymore. We built Warbringer from the ground up. I saw Viktor some years back, no bad blood. Born of the Ruins was our first foray into a real recording (we could finish playing our own songs by this point) and it shows our more speed/power origins before going full thrash on the next demo. They were >literally< the first songs I wrote in my life and that we wrote as a band.
Tell us about “Speed Kills… Again”.
Ha, well from my perspective it was a compilation we agreed to be on, and then we were on, not much story there. But it was cool because I think it showed a lot of people that there was a whole new scene forming within the metal scene.
Here’s a question for Mr. Kevill. Why do you think Thrash Metal has more room for songs than black or death metal? From your point of view, what do you think about the effect and significance of bands like Mercyful Fate, Death and Celtic frost on the scene?
Well, often super-extreme death metal basically is aiming for maximum extremity and not for hooks and memorable lines. Death metal >can< be done very song-focused, but often is not, I feel. Black metal often goes for a hypnotic atmospheric effect which I personally love but is not necessarily “song” and is more “atmospheric musical composition”. In both styles as well, there is a greater uniformity in the vocals (with some notably awesome exceptions).
Thrash still retains a lot of heavy metal (and therefore rock and roll) roots as well, whereas the extreme metals which followed usually do not. It can be really bone-simple or really crafted and complex. Also, there are a whole bunch of vocal styles in thrash, some of which are pretty out-there, ranging from melodic heavy metal to punk to black/death styled vocals. Most thrash bands of any reputation are instantly identifiable by their vocals, and I always liked this aspect to the genre. Don’t get confused though, I love extreme metal, but I think there are certain advantages that thrash has which factor into my decision to play it.
Well, in regards to the second question each one of those bands has a different impact and is specifically influential on different bands (I see Obituary, for example, as having a huge Celtic Frost influence). Fate pushed the boundaries of heavy metal in terms of dynamic composition, lyrical evil, and singing like an actual banshee. Frost brings that uniquely buzzy guitar sound into the picture, riffs from primordial caves, and the grunting vocal style. Oooh! Death first helps develop the savage early death metal sound (with still a lot of thrash ingredients) and then evolves Death into a unique progressive entity which forever pushed the bounds of instrumental skill and songwriting in extreme music. All great bands.
Random question time, do you guys have any routine rituals or superstitions before each show? Do you like playing smaller intimate gigs or larger arena or festivals?
Both really, any show where people are into it I enjoy.
I usually do push-ups, do some regular “normal singing” vocal warm-ups, and then scream at walls for a minute. One of my go-to’s is “EQUIMANTHORRRNNN!!”
Well, what do you think makes Thrash metal proper Thrash metal? What has changed in the time between Classic, heavy, aggressive and raw riff-driven bands like the Big Four (old Big Four maybe?) and contemporary bands with all these progressive and other influences?
Riffs, speed, a certain kind of percussive machine gun rhythm. Busy guitarwork with a lot of muted picking.
The things that have changed are the available ways it can go- extreme metal (a vast thing) now exists, for example. Bands today have the unique advantage of a retrospective of all that came before to be able to craft something new.
There are plenty of progressive influences in ‘80s thrash. Justice? Rust? What about Coroner, Artillery, Mekong Delta, Kreator on Extreme/Coma, Toxik, Heathen on Victims of Deception, etc, etc. There’s all kinds of sub-styles even within ‘80s thrash, I think each has something to offer.
We can use all of them, and anything else that fits, to make our ultimate version of a riff-driven killing machine.
How’s the band’s schedule these days? What do you do when you’re not bringing war?
Been studying, history. Completed Associates and began Bachelor’s in the time between Empires Collapse and Woe to the Vanquished, which was very helpful for the inspiration for the record. When tour begins, I’m usually just there.
In closing thanks a lot for talking to us. What can we expect from Warbringer in 2017? Do you have or would like to leave a message for your fans all over the World and fans of our publication? All the best in all your future endeavors.
Thanks for the interview! Thanks to all fans for your support. From us you can expect one thing: Pure heavy metal, done with power, precision, and passion!
Shibalika Tamuli / MHF